Comics publisher Dark Horse has been acquired by Embracer Group, the Sweden-based parent company that includes publishing and development studios Gearbox Software, THQ Nordic, Saber Interactive, Koch Media, Deep Silver, and Coffee Stain Studios. Embracer’s latest acquisition — announced a week after its planned buyout of tabletop game giant Asmodee — adds Dark Horse’s library of more than 300 intellectual properties, the company said in a news release Tuesday.
Buying Dark Horse, Embracer says, “strengthens its transmedia capabilities by adding expertise in content development, comics publishing, and film & TV production.”
“Additionally, there is untapped potential in creating games based on Dark Horse IP and substantial opportunity for synergies within the Embracer group, both within the Dark Horse Comics and Dark Horse Entertainment,” Embracer Group said in a statement.
Dark Horse is the third-largest comics publisher in the U.S., and its company-owned properties include The Mask, Time Cop, and Ghost. The comics publisher also has a long list of licensed properties in its library, including Star Wars, Avatar the Last Airbender, Stranger Things, The Witcher, and Critical Role, and creator-owned series like Hellboy and Sin City.
Dark Horse’s business extends beyond comics, and includes film and TV production company Dark Horse Entertainment (Hellboy, The Umbrella Academy), and collectibles retailer Things From Another World. According to Embracer Group, Dark Horse has more than 40 entertainment projects in development at Netflix, Amazon, Syfy, Sony, MGM, Universal, and Warner Media.
But Dark Horse is just one of five companies that Embracer Group announced it was acquiring Tuesday. The others are:
- Perfect World Entertainment, publisher of (the canceled) Magic: Legends and MMOs Neverwinter and Star Trek Online. (The developer of those games, Cryptic Studios, is also part of the deal. Perfect World will operate as a subsidiary of Gearbox Entertainment, “with a continued focus on publishing and creating games,” Embracer Group said.)
- DIGIC, the animation studio responsible for commercial trailers and cinematics for games such as Call of Duty: Vanguard, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Elden Ring, Destiny 2, and Halo 4.
- Shiver Entertainment, a game co-developer that has contributed to development of Mortal Kombat and Scribblenauts games.
- Spotfilm Networx, an advertising-based video on demand channel network, that, frankly, you probably have never heard of, unless you’re deep into the German AVOD scene.
Earlier this year, Embracer Group (formerly known as THQ Nordic AB), announced the acquisition of Borderlands developer Gearbox Software, as well as Aspyr Media (acquired through Saber Interactive), and Easybrain, a mobile game developer that specializes in puzzle and logic games.
In other words, the giant company that has spent the better part of a decade snapping up game publishers and developers, and their sometimes-dormant properties just got even more massive. It’s a consolidation spending spree in line with other video game giants, including Tencent (which just bought Back 4 Blood maker Turtle Rock) and Sony Interactive Entertainment (which acquired Bluepoint Games, Firesprite, Housemarque, Nixxes Software, and Valkyrie Entertainment in 2021).