It's been a good few years for Nordic Games Group.
In 2012 it purchased the Scandanavian branch of troubled retail brand GAME, and it started 2013 by buying a slew of high-profile IP from now-defunct publisher THQ. This included some big IP, such as Darksiders, Red Faction and the MX vs ATV racing franchise.
The firm has has adopted a smaller and lower key approach for these games. Rather than having a handful of billion dollar franchises, Nordic has a slew of smaller properties.
Darksiders is a top product. THQ spent $50m making Darksiders 2,” says Nordic Game Group owner Lars Wingefors. We can produce a product of the same quality but for a lower cost. $50m is ridiculous, I can't afford that.
Many of our IPs will only generate $50k a year, but it's still money. Sure, it's amounts that EA and the big guys wouldn't care about, but now we have hundreds of IPs, and in a few years we'll have a few hundred more. It will add up to something much bigger.”
And Wingefors is confident with the franchises he owns. According to him, anticipation is high for the upcoming MX vs ATV Supercross.
I know how big demand is for motocross games – they have been the most highly-prized pre-owned games,” he says. When an IP has demand, there's a fanbase. Now we're bringing back the guys who made all the MX games, they are making a great game and consumers are excited for it. Retail is picking it up. We started a Facebook page for the game at the start of the summer, and we already have 100,000 fans who really care about the game.
I'm really surprised by the community of MX. Iwould say it's the strongest of the IP we own, the most active community out there. It's something we can turn into an annual release. It was a very nice business for THQ. They sold one or two million copies each year. I'm happy if we could just sell a few hundred thousand.”
Nordic didn't stop with just buying some of THQ's IP – it also bought its name.
The THQ deal was the best I ever made,” Wingefors says. I spent $5m from my own bank account. It was a lot of money for me, but we got the money back very quickly.”
Wingefors and the Nordic Game Group also own the Scandinavian branch of GAME, having bought the company for only 1.
But the strategy that Wingefors has employed to help the firm survive has been rather different to the digital and event focused approach taken by GAME UK CEO Martyn Gibbs.
I have increased physical products in store,” says Wingefors. I think you should do things that are relevant to
brick and mortar stores. We increased the back catalogue of physical games. When I took over GAME we had 1,500 titles. We now have six or seven thousand titles per store.
GAME in the UK is much better at selling digital content than we are. It's much better at doing exclusive content deals with big publishers.”
He concludes: In the long term, GAME would be better owned by GAME UK or GameStop. We probably need international owners who have the synergies. I have no idea whether either are interested in buying it.”