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Thunderful Group will cut 20% of its staff

Another week, another wave of layoffs
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Thunderful Group, a Swedish gaming company comprising several development studios and publishing brands, announced that it would start a restructuring program with the aim of cutting around 20% of its entire workforce. This measure’s goal is to cut the company’s annual costs by 90 to 110 million SEK (around $8.62m to $10.53m USD). In addition, the group is exploring the divestment of some non-strategic assets, it stated.

Thunderful Development, the company’s game creation arm, consists of three merged studios – Image & Form, Zoink, and Guru Games – and oversees the activities of acquired studios like Coatsink Software and The Station. Thunderful Publishing is working with these internal studios as well as external partners like Rising Star Games, which is known for publishing Japanese games in the west. Together with Thunderful Investment, these two companies make up Thunderful Games, which represented around a quarter of the group’s total revenue in 2022.

Screenshot from SteamWorld Build showing a mining town with a train station.

SteamWorld Build is one the group's latest releases.

SteamWorld Build, LEGO Bricktales, and Laika: Aged Through Blood are among the group’s recently published titles.

Thunderful reported double-digit profit growth for 2022 and seemed to continue along that trajectory despite a weak third quarter of 2023. Both revenue and operating profit increased between January and September 2023, the group reported.

In spite of these numbers, “the new management team and the board of directors have identified the need to restructure the Group and focus its efforts on the strategic assets with the best long-term prospects.” Thunderful admits that recent acquisitions have been “over-investments” that have proven “unsustainable given the current industry climate, which has resulted in the Group being particularly affected by challenging market conditions.”

Thunderful has acquired at least one other company per year since 2020 with five takeovers in 2021 marking the zenith of the investment activities.

In 2023, the founder of game development studio Massive, Martin Walfisz, was named CEO of Thunderful Group. He commented on the layoffs as follows: “Since I joined as CEO in the fall of 2023, we have evaluated the current business and the future position of Thunderful. To ensure and strengthen the viability of the Group, we have found no alternative other than to reduce costs and focus the business on areas with the best future growth and profitability prospects. It has been difficult to make these decisions, and it saddens me that we will have to say goodbye to many skilled colleagues and partners. Nevertheless, I am convinced that this is a necessary direction for Thunderful and that these changes will make the company a stronger player in the market.”

The company reported that it had 480 employees in 2022, meaning close to 100 jobs are about to be lost.