Paradox Interactive

#3527

Rank

$2.62B

MarketCap SE

SE Sweden

Country

Summary
Paradox Interactive AB (publ) develops and publishes games and brands for PC, mobile, and console platforms primarily in North and Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific region. The company's game portfolio comprises various franchises and brands, including Stellaris, Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, Crusader Kings, Cities: Skylines, Surviving Mars, Prison Architect, Magicka, Age of Wonders, Victoria, and the World of Darkness. Paradox Interactive AB (publ) was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden.

History

Separation from Paradox Entertainment

Paradox Interactive's origins started with Target Games, a Sweden-based board game company. Target had been producing board and tabletop role-playing games in the 1980s and 1990s, and ventured into video games. By the late 1990s, Target was struggling financially, and they ultimately folded into bankruptcy by 1999. The video game division spun off into a separate entity, Paradox Entertainment, which published video game adaptions of Target's games. Between 2000 and 2003, Paradox Entertainment released the first titles of several grand strategy games, including Europa Universalis, Hearts of Iron, Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun and Crusader Kings. The company had several mediocre releases, including Gettysburg: Armored Warfare, an attempt by the studio to make a massively multiplayer online game on a triple-A scale, but which was released with numerous problems and was critically panned, costing several jobs by the developer.By around 2003, Paradox Entertainment began buying the intellectual property rights to various franchises like Conan the Barbarian from Robert E. Howard and Solomon Kane. Fredrik Wester, current CEO of Paradox Interactive, stated that around 2003 he had been brought aboard by Paradox Entertainment to help write their business plan, which included the drive to transform their video game division into a triple-A studio. Wester cautioned them about this, pointing back to the failure of Gettysburg. The Paradox Entertainment executives did not take this advice well and decided it would be better to shutter the video games division and focus exclusively on licensing their acquired brands. Instead, Wester, along with the Paradox Entertainment CEO Theodore Bergquist, bought out the video games division retaining the Swedish Paradox Development Studio and all seven of its developers including Johan Andersson. They gained all intellectual property rights to the studio's past games, forming Paradox Interactive in 2004.

Growth as a publisher

One of the first titles that was planned by Paradox Interactive was Crusader Kings, another grand strategy title. Their publisher, Strategy First, filed for bankruptcy about two months into its release, costing Paradox revenues from those sales as well as the lack of a North American distributor. After the launch of the digital storefront Steam around 2003, Wester experimented with digital marketplaces by offering downloadable content for Victoria via their website. The experiment proved successful, and subsequently in 2006 the company launched Paradox On Demand, a digital storefront with several of Paradox's back-catalog for sale. This eventually was renamed as GamersGate later in 2006. To help support it, Paradox looked to sign on games from developers as to bolster the company's reputation as a world-class video game publisher. Wester stated in 2013 that many of these games were "terribly bad", but that some proved to be strong performers, such as Mount & Blade. GamersGate eventually was spun off to be its own entity in 2008, while Paradox continued to acquire additional titles to fill its distributor catalogue which helped to finance continued development of grand strategy titles from the Paradox Development Studio. By 2013, the company had reached 100 employees, and established new offices in Stockholm, Sweden.Paradox Interactive continued to publish numerous games from smaller developers over the next several years, finding success in games like Magicka from Arrowhead Game Studios and War of the Roses from Fatshark. Wester and others in Paradox admitted in 2013 that this approach had been ambitious and led to issues with quality control in the resulting games, leading to a general impression about Paradox games being buggy. The publisher had greenlit and invested in several titles by its internal studios without careful review that failed to pan out, such as East vs. West, a spin-off from the Hearts of Iron series, By 2014, the company had made a decision to become much more selective of which titles to publish, making sure they were able to provide the necessary quality control support each title needed before agreeing to publish. Crusader Kings II in 2012 was one of the first games developed and published by Paradox with more attention focused on development timelines and testing to avoid past mistakes, and Paradox has since followed a similar model on its future titles.One of Paradox Interactive's more notable publishing deals was their agreement with Colossal Order in 2011 to publish their Cities in Motion transportation simulation game and later its sequel Cities in Motion 2. Colossal Order ultimately wanted to produce a city simulation game to challenge Electronic Arts SimCity series but Paradox had expressed concerns regarding the competition. However, after the release of the 2013 SimCity game and the poor reception it received due to a variety of gameplay changes and difficulties with online services required to play the game, Paradox greenlit Colossal Order for its city simulation game, Cities: Skylines, which was released in 2015 and has sold over 12 million copies by June 2022.Another collaboration for Paradox was with Obsidian Entertainment. Obsidian, having struggled financially, crowd-sourced the development of a new game, Pillars of Eternity, and entered into a publishing deal for it through Paradox. Obsidian published their next title, Tyranny through Paradox.

Paradox opened its second internal development studio, Paradox Arctic, located in Umeå, Sweden, formed from former members of EA DICE and Starbreeze Studios, in 2014.

Going public

In March 2016, CEO Fredrik Wester stated in an interview with Di Digital that Paradox Interactive has launched the IPO process. The company will complete the process within the year with the intention of spreading ownership between employees and players of their games and "looking for long-term owners who want to take part in the Paradox journey".On 31 May 2016, trading in Paradox Interactive commenced on Nasdaq First North under the ticker PDX. The initial price offering was 33 per share kr valuing the company at 3,485 million kr . Paradox set aside about 5% of the shares to allocate to Tencent, valued at about 174.24 million kr . Wester continued to hold 33.3% of the shares of the company, while investment firm Spiltan held to 30.5% of the shares. Finances created by the offering allowed Paradox to begin several acquisitions of various studios and intellectual properties.

Continued development

Paradox announced the opening of its third internal studio, Paradox Thalassic located in Malmö, Sweden, in May 2017. The studio was established to develop mobile games based on Paradox's properties. Paradox Interactive's financial performance for 2017 saw a 24% year-on-year increase in revenues to 813.8 million kr, and a 10% year-on-year increase in profits to 339.8 million kr.Wester stepped down as CEO in August 2018, but he remained executive chairman of the board while board member Ebba Ljungerud took his place as CEO. The move was billed as giving Wester more ability to look for growth opportunities while Ljungerud handled the day-to-day operations of the company, which had since grown to about 300 employees since its foundation.In March 2019, Paradox announced the opening of Paradox Tectonic, located in Berkeley, California, with Rod Humble serving as studio lead. Another new studio, Paradox Tinto, was opened in June 2020 in Barcelona, Spain, led by Johan Andersson to oversee Europa Universalis IV development and other Paradox grand strategy titles.In June 2020, Paradox became one of the first major publishers to announce support for unionization efforts when it concluded a labour agreement with its employees in its Swedish divisions and the Swedish unions Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations and Unionen. In 2021, Paradox committed to overhauling its online forums, due to challenges in engaging its community.On 1 September 2021, Ljungerud resigned as CEO "due to differing views on the company's strategy going forward," with the then executive chairman of the board and former CEO Fredrik Wester taking her place and resigning from his position on the board. Following this, Håkan Sjunnesson, at the time deputy chairman of the board, became chairman. At the end of September 2021, the company announced it was cancelling development on several unannounced products to focus on "proven game niches", leaving 15 projects in development. According to Wester, the company's focus remains on their strategy and simulation games, and that they have "sharpened our pipeline further to ensure that the projects with the highest potential have the resources necessary for the best possible development".That same September, Swedish publication Breakit reported that an internal survey from Paradox employees found 44% of the 133 responds had reported some type of "mistreatment" in the company, and that many respondents believed there was a "culture of silence" at the firm. The following month, a report from Svenska Dagbladet further investigated this situation, finding that the female employees believed the company was "clearly male-dominated", and with several men in senior management positions in roles involved in harassment and mistreatment of employees. Eurogamer also spoke to Paradox employees, confirming these findings. Paradox replied to these reports that while the prior survey was too small a fraction of their total employee count to take action on, they have hired an independent auditor to review their company culture, starting with their Sweden operations. In February 2022 published the audit on its webpage.The company launched Paradox Arc in August 2022 as a new publishing label aimed for games from smaller studios.


Mission
Our mission is to make our fans and customers feel like part of our global family and help them experience the joy and pleasure of gaming.

Vision
Our vision is to become the premier publisher of strategy games through engaging content, engagement, and collaboration.

Key Team

Mr. Johan Andersson (Exec. VP of Creative Direction, PDS)

Henrik Fahreus (Chief Creative Officer)

Mr. Mattias Lilja (Chief of Staff)

Julien Wera (Chief Product Officer)

Mr. Kim Nordstrom (Chief Strategy Officer)

Johan Bolin (Chief Bus. Officer)


Recognition and Awards
Paradox Interactive has won various awards, including the International Gaming Awards as both Innovative Publisher of the Year 2018 and Strategy Publisher of the Year 2018.

References
Paradox Interactive
Leadership team

Mr. Fredrik Wester (Founder, Director & CEO)

Mr. Alexander Bricca (Chief Financial Officer)

Ms. Charlotta Nilsson (Chief Operations Officer)

Products/ Services
Gaming, Internet, PC Games, Publishing
Number of Employees
500 - 1000
Headquarters
Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden
Established
1999
Net Income
20M - 100M
Revenue
100M - 500M
Traded as
PDX.ST
Social Media
Mon Feb 26 2024
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