One of gaming’s most beloved niche publishers wants to sell itself … to its fans and employees.
Paradox Interactive, the publisher responsible for critically acclaimed grand-strategy game releases like Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV, has begun the process to present an initial public offering (IPO) at some point this year, the company confirmed to GamesBeat. After expanding into role-playing and tabletop games, the game maker is seeking capital, and Paradox’s leadership has decided that going public is its best strategy for pursuing that cash. The publisher isn’t talking specifics at this time due to strict guidelines surrounding IPOs, but chief executive officer Fredrik Wester did give a few comments to Swedish website DiGital, where he highlighted how he wants to use this as an opportunity raise funds while also giving value to its employees and biggest supporters.
Wester said Paradox will try to give its employees and Paradox fans priority access to any stock the company issues — although it won’t exclude anyone who has interest. This would mark the first major gaming IPO of 2016.
The worldwide gaming market is a $99.3 billion business, according to market researcher Newzoo, and Paradox has shown competence in navigating that market. It is not a publisher on par with the giants like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, or Activision, but it is profitable and growing because it has developed a branch of the strategy genre that almost no other major developers are serving. That dedication has made its fans look forward to every new Paradox release and those gamers continue to support older products by buying any new content add-ons. While publishers like THQ, Acclaim, and more have gone under by trying to fight against the biggest corporations in the space, Paradox has demonstrated a new model for the medium-sized gaming company.
That momentum led to Paradox generating record sales of $71 million in 2015. With more content coming for Europa Universalis IV, role-playing game Pillars of Eternity, and urban-planning simulator Cities: Skylines in addition to new releases like Stellaris, the company thinks it’ll keep growing.
But Wester wants to go bigger than more games that make more money. He explained to DiGital that he wants more access to capital to help with acquisitions and bigger projects. Going public would give the company the flexibility to make those kinds of moves without having to deplete its bank account.