Embracer Group’s Phil Rogers Says Layoffs Were An ‘Agonizing Process’

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The past year has been a particularly challenging time for the video games industry with several thousand employees having been laid off across dozens of big-name companies. One company that was hit pretty hard was Swedish video game holding company Embracer Group.

After a multi-year studio shopping spree that saw it acquire THQ Nordic, Perfect World Entertainment, Cryptic Studios, and Crystal Dynamics, among others, it all came crashing down when they failed to secure a $2 billion deal with Saudia Arabian gaming company Savvy Gaming Group. The botched partnership left Embracer with $1.5 billion in debt and prompted a company-wide restructuring which saw multiple game cancellations and 904 employees lose their jobs from July to September 2023.

Embracer has since been whittling down its massive debt based on its latest financial report, with plans to reduce it by half by the end of its 2023 fiscal year in March 2024. Interim chief strategy officer Phil Rogers reports that they’re “making good progress” as restructuring continues.

“We feel like we're on track against our targets that we’ve set out. So we feel very positive about that,” Rogers told GamesIndustr.biz. “We’re in line with our targets on how we bring the debt down, with [operating expenses] savings and the targets for our capital expenditure, which is basically our games pipeline.”

“It's been an agonizing process to see the sort of headcount [reduction], but we know it’s a necessary thing for us to hit our new and needed goals. So overall, good progress and we push on,” he added.

In line with Embracer’s cost-cutting efforts, Rogers says that they’re currently doing a complete review of their ongoing projects which included over 200 games as of June 2023.

“We have to change and adapt,” Rogers continued. “We’ve taken on a lot, but it’s in that pursuit to change and evolve and grow, and now we’re just in that different climate. […] We just got to face some of the realities of how we can work in a more efficient way.”