Paradox Interactive, the Stockholm-based video game publisher known for its lineup of “grand strategy” games, announced Tuesday that it’s entered into an agreement to acquire Seattle-based indie developer Harebrained Schemes for $7.5 million. The two companies recently partnered to release the revival of BattleTech.
Paradox’s acquisition of Harebrained brings the latter company into a portfolio that includes its own Paradox Development Studio (Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron, Europa Universalis), the Netherlands-based Triumph Studios (the Age of Wonders series, Overlord), and White Wolf Publishing, the American tabletop games company that produces the World of Darkness series, including Vampire: The Masquerade.
The stated terms of the acquisition would bring Harebrained into Paradox’s organization as an internal studio, where, according to a news release, it will be “designing and developing the games that have earned them their outstanding reputation.” In addition to BattleTech, Harebrained is perhaps best-known for Shadowrun Returns, its expansion Dragonfall, and the sequel Hong Kong, a series of tactical role-playing games based upon the Shadowrun tabletop franchise.
RELATED: Winning the Kickstarter game: Behind the scenes at Harebrained Schemes, and a BattleTech sneak peek
Prior to the acquisition announcement, Harebrained Schemes was No. 95 on the GeekWire 200, our index of privately held, independent technology companies based in the Pacific Northwest. With the acquisition, the company graduates from the list.
“Harebrained Schemes have proven themselves as a world-class studio with a very talented team within a genre where Paradox wants to be present,” Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester said in the news release. “In addition, we really like the studio, the people who run it, and their games; these are all absolute hard criteria for us in any acquisition. Our recent successful launch of BattleTech, our first project together, has been a fantastic collaboration, but the possibilities of what we can do together in the long term now that we’ve joined forces — that’s what has us truly excited.”
— Fredrik Wester (@TheWesterFront) June 5, 2018
Within a couple of minutes of the initial announcement, Paradox put up a FAQ on its official forums to address potential concerns from the community. As of right now, no staffing changes will occur at Harebrained as a result of the acquisition, except that Harebrained is now officially hiring more staff. Harebrained will continue to support BattleTech, and is officially beginning the concept development stage for a new title.
The purchase price for Harebrained could exceed $7.5 million depending on how the Harebrained titles do. The news release explains that the deal involves “a fixed purchase price of US$7,500,000 at the time of acquisition plus an additional purchase price corresponding to 25% of the acquired business’ earnings before publishing costs over the next 5 years to the extent such earnings exceed the fixed purchase price.”
Harebrained Studios, with offices in Kirkland, Wash., was founded in 2011 by Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman, who’d previously worked together at FASA on the Crimson Skies franchise. The two shared the acquisition news in a video on Kickstarter.
Weisman in particular has had a long and decorated career in the tabletop gaming industry, as a founder of the FASA Corporation and one of the creators of the long-running BattleTech, Shadowrun, MechWarrior, and Earthdawn franchises.
“Mitch and I started Harebrained to create the kind of story-rich tactical games we loved, and for the last seven years, our studio has been fueled by our team’s passion and by the generous support of our fans,” Weisman, serves as Harebrained CEO, said in the news release. “As the scale of our games has grown and the marketplace has gotten extremely noisy we felt that HBS needed to team up with a company that could provide us the financial stability and marketing expertise that would allow us focus on what we love doing — making great games and stories.”
This, in turn, is suggestive that as a Paradox studio, Harebrained will no longer be wholly dependent on crowdfunding to make its games, as almost all of the titles in its catalog to date were created via successful Kickstarter campaigns. There are no current plans to “cross the streams,” as Paradox puts it in the aforementioned FAQ, by crossing over Harebrained’s properties with Paradox’s, and current word as to the next Harebrained project is simply that it “will continue to focus on what it does best, which are tactical games with rich stories.”
As a “welcome to the family” gift, Kickstarter backers of the 2018 BattleTech will be receiving a free copy of Paradox’s grand strategy space game Stellaris.