If you see me out in public, you will recognize me by my Embracer Group T-shirt and baseball cap. For I am now an Embracer Group fan. I know that sounds weird. There is something unnatural about a grown man outside of the key 18-34-year-old marketing demographic choosing a new brand allegiance. And yet, that is what is happening here.
The reality is that I feel like I have no choice. Embracer is too big to ignore, and it’s now responsible for a lot of games I want to cared about. To be clear, I’m speaking as a fan of games. But as that fan, Embracer is making choices that I’ve always wanted to see from more publishers. A great example of that is the company’s strategy to revive older franchises, like TimeSplitters.
As part of Embracer’s earnings, it revealed is bringing back the classic shooter franchise (it first debuted on the PlayStation 2 and would appear on the GameCube and Xbox as well). The publisher is also reviving developer Free Radical Design under its Deep Silver publishing label to build the game.
TimeSplitters is a game series that the industry could have easily left in the past. Embracer, however, sees value in playing on that nostalgia. One of Embracer’s labels even adopted the THQ name from the defunct publisher. In the earnings report Embracer chief executive Lars Wingefors confirms this approach:
We have more market-demand driven opportunity via innovative concepts, dormant IP’s, licenses and other business opportunities than we have the development capability to execute. Thus, the ambition is to further expand our creative engine through increased headcount, both organically through scaling up existing studios and also by adding new talented studios to the Group.
It seems like if you want a studio to rescue a dormant IP, Embracer is your best bet.
Embracer’s plan? Make a lot of games
One criticism that I lob at many of the publishers in video games is that they seem afraid to make games. Companies like Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard put themselves in positions where they only want to pursue the biggest possible blockbusters. Take-Two, the parent company of Grand Theft Auto publisher Rockstar, seems like it has a lot of games in production with 60 over the next 3 years.
Embracer, meanwhile, has 90 games coming in the next year — and it has 160 in the works total.
And going back to being a fan of games, I’m very excited about this. Not everything will appeal to me, but Embracer already has an impressive hit list. That includes the Early Access Steam hit Valheim, which surpassed 6.8 million copies sold. And Embracer also owns Saints Row publisher Deep Silver, Wreckfest studio Bugbear Entertainment, and Borderlands dev Gearbox.
Even if I’m only into 10% of what Embracer puts out over the next few years, that would be 16 games. That is more than the total number of games we might get from Activision in that time.
So I feel that I must root for Embracer. I am an Embracer stan. Because if its strategy works, we’re going to get a lot more good games.