SteamWorld Build underperformed, says publisher Thunderful

SteamWorld Build underperformed, says publisher Thunderful

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Company restructure “off to a good start”.

Panorama of cartoon Steamworld Build environments above and below ground

Image credit: Thunderful Games

SteamWorld Build publisher Thunderful said the game “fell slightly short of expectations”, as its company restructure is “off to a good start”.

The game was the latest in the SteamWorld series that turned to strategy and base building gameplay, and was released at the start of December last year.

During the company’s latest financial reporting, Thunderful CEO Martin Walfisz put the blame on genre choice not being suited to the Switch, where the series is traditionally stronger (thanks Game Developer). That’s despite the game’s sales contributing to a record high Q4.

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“We are pleased to have new momentum with regard to our most important IP, but sales during December fell slightly short of our expectations,” said Walfisz.

“We believe this is because the genre of this game has not really appealed to our most dedicated target audience and it has not been well-suited to the Switch console, which has traditionally been a key platform for SteamWorld games.”

Thunderful is undergoing a “restructuring programme” affecting around 20 percent of staff, which it announced in January.

This restructuring is “off to a good start”, said Walfisz, despite overall company losses. Strong game sales couldn’t make up for losses in its distribution business.

It’s designed to “address past overinvestments”, one of which was perhaps Bridge Constructor publisher Headup that Thunderful acquired for €11m (£9.39m) in 2021. It’s now exploring the potential to sell the company.

“[Headup’s] business, which focuses on releasing relatively small indie games, does not fit with Thunderful’s new strategy,” said Walfisz (thanks “Furthermore, Thunderful does not need two separate publishing operations and the Group’s game publishing activities will be channelled solely through Thunderful Publishing going forward.”

Thunderful isn’t the only Swedish games company to be restructuring of course. Embracer Group has now laid off eight percent of its staff as its own restructure reaches “mature stages”.

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