THQ Nordic hates the feeling of cash in its pocket. It would rather put that capital toward something useful, like buying a video game studio or two. The Darksiders III publisher has done this a number of times, and it is continuing that trend today with acquisitions of Wreckfest developer Bugbear Entertainment and Goat Simulator studio Coffee Stain.
The company says it spent $34 million (317 million Swedish krona) to acquire Coffee Stain. And it expects the developer to generate revenue of $22 million to $27.5 million over the next year. THQ Nordic takes full control of Coffee Stain as part of this deal, which includes the publishing rights to the online multiplayer adventure Deep Rock Galactic.
For Bugbear Entertainment, THQ Nordic did not disclose the purchase price. It did note that it acquired a 90-percent stake in Bugbear, and it also holds an option to buy the remaining 10 percent if it chooses to do so. This brings the demolition-derby simulator Wreckfest under the THQ banner.
Let’s get digital, digital
These acquisitions are part of THQ Nordic’s ongoing efforts to build a strong, mid-sized publisher with an impressive stable of recognizable properties. Bugbear and Coffee Stain in particular, though, are about shoring up the company’s digital offerings. THQ Nordic has specialized in physical releases. It has even handled distribution for some Microsoft-published games like ReCore: Definitive Edition and Super Lucky’s Tale. But it also wants to build another side of its business that looks more like Scum and Hotline Miami publisher Devolver Digital.
On Coffee Stain
Coffee Stain has established a strong record of building games and now publishing games. That’s something a lot of successful indie studios have tried to transition to, but Coffee Stain has actually pulled it off. That’s where THQ Nordic sees a chance to capitalize.
“We are creating a complementary digital native pillar to THQ Nordic,” THQ chief executive officer Lars Wingefors said from the executive-speak zone. “Coffee Stain is a passionate and highly competent team creating and publishing great games. After some years without major releases the pipeline of new game releases such as Satisfactory and Deep Rock Galactic look strong. I look forward to work together with Anton Westbergh and his team in the future.”
When it comes to Bugbear, THQ Nordic sees an opportunity to turn Wreckfest into something major. The game has sold well and attracted a large audience. Now THQ wants to take that momentum and run with it in partnership with Bugbear and its founder Janne Alanenpää.
“We have been working together with Janne Alanenpää and his team since 2016. And we see continued great potential in Wreckfest as well as in Bugbear’s future games pipeline,” said Wingerfors. “Janne Alanenpää is a legend within action racing games. And the Bugbear team will bring important development capabilities earned from creating outstanding games during almost two decades. We are very excited to have been able to acquire Bugbear and their portfolio. Our aim is to build Wreckfest together into a major franchise for THQ Nordic with the release to console coming up first in time.”
Bugbear and Coffee Stain join the THQ properties that THQ Nordic acquired in the wake of the original THQ’s bankruptcy in 2013. Since then, the publisher has also brought in BioMutant developer Experiment 101, Saints Row and Metro 2033 publisher Deep Silver (and parent company Koch Media), and German mobile publisher HandyGames. The company has also acquired properties like TimeSplitters, Second Sight, and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
So is this the end of THQ Nordic’s shopping spree? The company isn’t saying. But it is going to have to start showing the results of these business moves soon.