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Embracer Group is De-Grouping!

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By Nelson Schneider - 04/23/24 at 04:38 PM CT

In recent memory, it seemed that gaming consolidation was inevitable, as Big Corporations snatched up every smaller or Indie studio they could, building their IP portfolios while doing nothing with said IP. The consolidation phase of Late Stage Corporatist Gaming culminated with the multi-year process of Microsoft acquiring Activision-Blizzard-King for billions and billions of dollars, while off-stage in the shadows, the Swedish holding company, Embracer Group (of which a portion is owned not by Swedes, but by a Saudi Prince) quietly accumulated an obscenely large portfolio of gaming and gaming-adjacent things, including both tabletop game and comic book publishers.

Something is definitely happening in our current state of economic corruption, as it seems that Embracer Group has finally eaten its fill, and much like Mr. Creosote in the classic (and really EFF-ing gross) Monty Python sketch, can’t hold it all together anymore. On April 22, 2024, Embracer announced that they were splitting the holding company into three discrete studios… with some darn cringe-inducing names.

First, their “AAA” studio shall henceforth be known as “Middle-Earth Enterprises and Friends.” No, I’m not kidding (though I wish it was a joke). This studio will not only hold the videogame license for J.R.R. Tolkien’s IP, but will also contain all of the formerly-big-but-fallen-on-hard-times studios Embracer snapped up during its gorging phase, such as Eidos and Crystal Dynamics, which were sold-off by Square-Enix back in 2022.

Next, Embracer’s Indie studio shall henceforth be known as “Coffee Stain and Friends.” I wish I was kidding about this name even more. Why would they choose a name with “stain” it instead of resurrecting THQ, Nordic, or THQ-Nordic?! Oh well. Regardless, this new studio will contain all of the One-Hit Wonders Embracer bought, along with the group’s Euro-jank studios, which will no doubt result in fantastic release schedules (yes, I am kidding with that last bit).

Finally, the third of Embracer’s misbegotten children will henceforth be known as “Asmodee,” and will contain the tabletop games and comic books segments. However, thanks to its special relationship with its siblings, it will continue to manage the tabletop licenses for IPs whose videogame licenses belong to Middle-Earth Enterprises and Friends. The rampant rumors and speculation revolving around Wizards of the Coast’s current struggles and Hasbro’s firing of copious quantities of WotC staff (plus the recent ‘voluntary’ resignation of WotC’s ex-Xbox executive) indicates that Hasbro might be prepping D&D for sale, while this reshuffling at Embracer might indicate that the Swedes and Saudi Prince are prepping for a D&D-sized purchase.

Regardless, the mass layoffs, executive firings, and corporate breakups going on within the videogame industry right now are an interesting observation into economic theory. We usually think of monopolies as these unassailable monstrosities that squeeze the competition and life out of an economic sector. Yet with Embracer, we’re seeing a would-be monopoly self-destruct in real-time. It’s a head-scratcher, that’s for sure!

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