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The Swedish gaming conglomerate

Embracer Group is a Swedish developer, distributor, and publisher of video games. The Group consists of several subsidiary groups such as Coffee Stain, Saber Interactive, Koch Media, Gearbox Entertainment, and THQ Nordic. Further, these groups consist of other smaller studios that make up the total of Embracer Group. Some of the games Embracer Group has developed and published are Biomutant, Saints Row, Dead Island, Darksiders, Borderlands, and Valheim. The group was previously known as THQ Nordic. Embracer Group was founded by Lars Wingefors in 2011 and is headquartered in Karlstad, Sweden.

The humble founder

The founder of Embracer Group is Lars Wingefors. He started his first business when he was just thirteen years old selling comic books. At just 15 years old he was one of the largest mail-order retailers for comic books in Sweden. He then went on to resell other things such as vinyl records, t-shirts, and video games. He started to notice that video games were becoming more and more popular and already after two years he managed to sell for 10M SEK. He traveled to conventions and fairs all over the world to negotiate prices and things were going well when his company was acquired in 2000. Due to the turbulence of the dot.com era, the company went into bankruptcy and Wingefors lost almost all of his money since most of it was in stock. He managed to turn this around and build an even bigger video game empire, Embracer Group.

Swedish gaming industry

Sweden has a long record of creating successful video games alongside game studios. One example is the Swedish game developer Digital Illusions CE or DICE that got acquired by Electronic Arts. Their first game was the 1990’s success Pinball Dreams but they are perhaps more known as the developers of the Battlefield series. Another example includes the worldwide popular game Minecraft which was developed by Mojang Studios that was later acquired by Microsoft. Other notable examples are Candy Crush developed by King, Crusader Kings developed by Paradox Interactive, Brothers: A Son’s Story developed by Starbreeze, and It takes two developed by Hazelight Studios.

Building a powerhouse

Embracer Group has a long history of building the company through acquisitions. This includes acquiring studios and publishers such as Koch Media, Coffee Stain Holding, Saber Interactive, Gearbox Software, and the board games group Asmodee. A key strategy by Wingefors has been to attract entrepreneurs to the Embracer Group and let them maintain their freedom and creativity to further serve the company’s ecosystem of studios. Another aspect of this strategy is to build a backlog of strong intellectual property that the group can leverage further. Historically, the IP strategy has been to acquire IP more broadly and focus more on older titles but in recent years, with the acquisition of Gearbox Software, the group has started to compete in the AAA-games segment as well. Embracer Group is one of Europe’s biggest gaming companies.