Home Games SteamWorld Build Underperformed, Says Publisher Thunderful

SteamWorld Build Underperformed, Says Publisher Thunderful

by William Linden
SteamWorld Build

SteamWorld Build

SteamWorld Build, the latest addition to the beloved SteamWorld series, faced some challenges according to its publisher, Thunderful. Despite the company’s optimism about its restructuring efforts, which are reportedly “off to a good start,” SteamWorld Build didn’t meet the expected sales figures. Released in early December, the game ventured into strategy and base-building gameplay, a departure from the series’ usual formula.

During Thunderful’s recent financial reporting, CEO Martin Walfisz pointed to the choice of genre as a contributing factor to the game’s underperformance on the Nintendo Switch, a platform traditionally strong for SteamWorld titles. Walfisz acknowledged that while the game’s sales contributed to a record high in Q4, they still fell slightly short of expectations.

“We are pleased to have new momentum with regard to our most important IP,” Walfisz stated, “but sales during December fell slightly short of our expectations.” He attributed this shortfall to the game’s genre not resonating strongly with the dedicated SteamWorld fanbase and not aligning well with the Nintendo Switch’s user base.

In response to these challenges, Thunderful initiated a “restructuring program,” affecting approximately 20 percent of its staff, as announced in January. Despite incurring overall company losses, the restructuring efforts are deemed to be on the right track. However, strong game sales couldn’t offset losses in the distribution business.

The restructuring aims to address past overinvestments, such as the acquisition of Bridge Constructor publisher Headup for €11m (£9.39m) in 2021. Thunderful is now considering the potential sale of Headup, as its business model, focusing on releasing relatively small indie games, doesn’t align with Thunderful’s new strategy.

“Furthermore, Thunderful does not need two separate publishing operations,” Walfisz explained. “The Group’s game publishing activities will be channeled solely through Thunderful Publishing going forward.”

Thunderful’s restructuring efforts mirror similar movements in the Swedish games industry, with Embracer Group also undergoing layoffs amounting to eight percent of its staff as part of its own restructuring process, now reaching “mature stages.”

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