Embracer Group CEO says he deserves “a lot of criticism”

Wingefors has spoken openly about his role at Embracer Group, following the public announcement of the company's split.
Embracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors

Embracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors has admitted he deserves “a lot of criticism” for the handling of the company, following the public announcement that it will split into three entities, after years of turmoil. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Wingefors openly discussed the “painful” feedback he’d received over the last few months, for recent business decisions which led to over 1,400 staff layoffs, 7 studio closures, and at least 29 cancelled games.

“As a leader and an owner, sometimes you need to take the blame and you need to be humble about if you’ve made mistakes and if you could have done something differently,” Wingefors said. “I’m sure I deserve a lot of criticism, but I don’t think my team or companies deserve all the criticism. I could take a lot of that blame myself.”

Despite this admission, Wingefors was keen to outline a firm passion and belief in Embracer Group’s future vision: “Ultimately I need to believe in the mission we set out and that is still valid, and we are now enabling that by doing this [new] structure,” he said.

Read: Embracer Group will split into three companies by 2025

Wingefors believes Embracer still has the trust of “many or all of [his] key entrepreneurs and CEOs that have joined the group” and that they will support the company as it transitions to a new business model. Per Wingefors, he and his investors believe “the world has changed” and that Embracer needs to change with it.

When asked directly about the mistakes he made as CEO of Embracer, Wingefors did not go into specifics. Rather, he cited a vague “long list” of choices he and Embracer could have tackled differently, for a better outcome.

“In every given moment, you are making decisions you believe are right,” Wingefors said. “When we were at the peak of 2020, 2021, we made all those decisions to acquire or organically set up or invest… and everyone was backing that. I firmly believed in that. The outcome, because it takes a number of years to make games, is different and it’s painful and we need to adapt to it.”

He also confirmed that Embracer’s decision to purchase tabletop publisher Asmodee is what pushed the company into debt for the first time, with this “painful” decision being a difficult one for the company. Still, Wingefors believes it’s too early “to say what’s right or wrong in this” and he aims to invest “long term” in this business.

Asmodee will make up one of the three major arms of the former Embracer Group, post-split, alongside Coffee Stain & Friends, and Middle-earth Enterprises & Friends. For now, the future of these three companies remains up in the air, but we’re likely to see significant change over the coming months and year.

By 2025, Embracer Group, in its current form, will officially cease to exist. Wingefors will remain “a long-term, active, committed and supportive owner” of all three new Embracer spin-off companies.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.