After an eventful Sunday evening/Monday morning, Embracer Group has been in a lot of headlines. The new parent company of Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix Montreal has its hand in a lot of other video game developers and publishers. At the top of that chain is the company's CEO, Lars Wingefors. If that's a name that you've never heard before, allow to explain his story. Who is Lars Wingefors and how did he find himself here?
Who is Embracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors?
A self-professed underdog, Lars Wingefors is one of the main faces of Embracer Group, which now stands as the biggest name in European video games. According to Forbes, Wingefors has a net worth of $1.6 billion USD based largely on his 28 percent ownership of the company. According to the Embracer Group website, this includes 52,260,204 class A shares and 210,238,330 class B shares in Embracer Group AB stock.
Those who are not familiar with the name Embracer Group may recognize it by its former label: THQ Nordic, which itself was formerly branded as Nordic Games Licensing. Prior to its branding change, the company took part in a series of acquisitions that included the THQ trademark, Koch Media Holding, Coffee Stain Publishing, and Goodbye Kansas Game Invest. In 2019, the company became Embracer Group and the Swedish-based corporation would only grow from there. Not counting the acquisitions of Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix Montreal, Embracer holds over 115 internal game development studios across more than 10 operating groups.
While many are unfamiliar with Wingefors' name, he is not new to the business game. He rose to prominence in gaming at age 16 in his native Sweden. After launching a successful mail order comic book business, he transitioned into his own mail order company to exchange video games. The company grew rapidly to the point that the newly-dubbed Nordic Games had become a retail chain. The company was on the downswing in the late 90s, so Wingefors sold the mail order company to Gameplay Stockholm. Nordic Games languished from there, a casualty of the dot com bubble burst, which allowed Wingefors to repurchase his old company and reshape it for a new century.
Wingefors has worked to expand Embracer Group significantly since the company was rebranded. Among its acquisitions are Saber Interactive, 4A Games, Zen Studios, Flying Wild Hog, 3D Realms, Ghost Ship Games, and many more. Among the company's biggest deals was the purchase of Gearbox Entertainment, which Embracer picked up for $1.3 billion USD.
If Wingefors' business history is any indication, expansion is on the horizon. As he did with his mail order video game group, he hopes to expand Embracer Group across new frontiers. According to Bloomberg, the company went from 374 employees in 2016 to more than 7,000 employees across eight subsidiaries. Can Embracer Group justify this level of growth with strong sales and performance? This remains to be seen, but expect to see much more of Lars Wingefors going forward, as Embracer Group becomes one of the most prominent forces in gaming.