With a 1,000-strong workforce split evenly across Russia and Ukraine, the outbreak of war on Feb 24 hurt one European gaming company perhaps more than any other.
Stockholm-based G5 Entertainment AB is now conducting a major overhaul of its organisational footprint by opening offices in Georgia, Malta, Montenegro and Turkey. According to chief executive officer Vlad Suglobov the aim of the changes is two-fold: to diversify its staff base and to offer safe relocation for those forced to flee their home countries.
“We will still probably be Eastern European-focused in terms of developer talent,” Suglobov said during an interview in the Swedish capital. “That’s where the company grew out of and this is where people running the company are from.”
The Russia-born CEO, who himself is based in California, has spent the past 20 years building a company into a free-to-play gaming specialist with titles such as Sherlock and Jewels Of Rome that also offer in-game purchases. Its shares have been traded on Nasdaq Stockholm’s main market since 2014.
It’s a business model that has been well received by the small number of analysts who all recommend buying the stock. Last week, Kepler Cheuvreux’s Mathias Lundberg initiated coverage of G5 with a buy rating and labeled the firm “the comeback king” after a tumultuous period that has seen its shares slump 40% so far this year.
The company also benefits from an unusual gender balance when it comes to customers with significantly more women players than men, according to the CEO.
“I have to engage my inner 55-year-old woman,” Suglobov said citing a corner of the market that is often overlooked by more established gaming companies such as Activision Blizzard Inc, whose Call Of Duty series regularly tops sales charts.
But in an increasingly crowded market place, the cost of finding new gamers may weigh on G5’s profits in the short term, according to Redeye analyst Tomas Otterbeck. In May, the Swedish company said it would boost the level of investments in this area to as much as 35% of sales from the previous guidance of 22%.
Suglobov however remains bullish on attracting customers to the company’s free games even amid the uncertainty caused by accelerating inflation. “We see that spending is pretty much proportional to the time that customers spend playing our games,” he said. “So a situation where they have difficulty affording something else is quite good for us.” – Bloomberg