Thunderful AB is a Swedish video game holding company based in Gothenburg. It was founded in December 2017 by Brjánn Sigurgeirsson and Klaus Lyngeled, in conjunction with Bergsala Holding, as the parent company for their Gothenburg-based game development studios, Image & Form and Zoink. Thunderful also owns publishing arms Thunderful Publishing and Rising Star Games, the latter of which it acquired from Bergsala Holding in June 2018.
Image & Form and Zoink, two independent video game developers based in Gothenburg, developed a close relationship when their founders and chief executive officers (CEOs), Brjánn Sigurgeirsson and Klaus Lyngeled, respectively, became best friends. Although the two studios were separated by the Göta river, Sigurgeirsson and Lyngeled met frequently due to the small size of Gothenburg's indie scene. Among other things, Image & Form and Zoink shared testing activities and marketing capabilities. Image & Form heed previously been 50%-acquired by Bergsala Holding, the holding company of Bergsala (Nintendo's exclusive distribution partner in Sweden), when Sigurgeirsson eventually introduced Lyngeled to the company, they agreed to also acquire half of Zoink.
Sigurgeirsson, Lyngeled and Bergsala Holding decided to merge the two studios and created Thunderful as the parent company for them in December 2017. The company is jointly owned by the founding parties, of which Bergsala Holding holds a 50% stake and Sigurgeirsson and Lyngeled each 25%. Sigurgeirsson and Lyngeled became the CEO and chief creative officer (CCO), respectively, of Thunderful, while both remained CEOs of their individual studios. The move was announced in January 2018, at which point Thunderful had 46 employees. Alongside the merger, a publishing arm, called Thunderful Publishing, was also set up to handle third-party game publishing. Ed Valiente, the former business development manager for Nintendo of Europe, joined Thunderful as head of publishing in April 2018 and became the managing director for Thunderful Publishing. In July 2018, Thunderful additionally acquired Rising Star Games, Bergsala Holding's previous publishing arm. With the deal, Valiente, in addition to his role at Thunderful Publishing, also became the managing director for Rising Star Games, replacing Martin Defries, who left the company.
Image & Form
Image & Form International AB was founded by Brjánn Sigurgeirsson, who acts as its CEO, and an unnamed co-founder in 1997. Sigurgeirsson had collected experience in web design after working from Tokyo and San Francisco, and when he applied for several jobs of the same type in Gothenburg and would have gotten all of them, he established Image & Form as a two-man multimedia and web operation to capitalise on this industry. While Sigurgeirsson intended to call the company Imagenation, his co-founder wished for it to be called Monkey Business; a vote between their friends was to resolve this dispute, though a third suggestion, "Image & Form", received the best reception.
The business soon expanded with web-based game production, and in 2002 it was contracted to complete an edutainment game project for a Norwegian publisher. After that project was finished, the two companies continued co-operating for games made entirely by Image & Form. This continued as a side-business for Image & Form until 2007, when the publisher asked for speed up production to produce eight games per year, up from previously one game in 18 months. The series was sold to a Danish publisher that eventually closed in 2009. Through this development, Image & Form created 30 edutainment games in the same series between 2007 and early 2010. Image & Form's portfolio diversified when it released its first iOS game, Gyro the Sheepdog, in late 2009. Following onto this, Image & Form also released Mariachi Hero, Hugo Troll Race, and, in October 2011, Anthill. Its most successful series of games, SteamWorld, started with the release of SteamWorld Tower Defense on Nintendo DSi in 2010. In late 2011, Bergsala Holding acquired 50% of the company, and Image & Form became Bergsala Holding's primary development arm. As of April 2019, Image & Form has 25 employees.
Zoink AB was founded in 2001 by Klaus Lyngeled, who acts as its CEO. Lyngeled had initially started developing games when he and some friends produced a pinball game for the Amiga. They later got together with a similar team based in Norrköping and, together, founded Unique Development Studios. When Lyngeled got tired of working for Unique Development Studios, he moved to the United States to work for Shiny Entertainment. He worked on Messiah and Sacrifice but when he began working on Enter the Matrix, he faced, among other things, issues with his visa, wherefore he returned to Sweden, where he founded Zoink. By 2003, Zoink was working on animated films, later advertisement films, and finally advertisement games; clients for the latter included Sony, The Coca-Cola Company, Cartoon Network, and Google. Zoink's first full game was The Kore Gang, revived after its original Xbox version had been cancelled for six years. Zoink's breakout title was Stick It to the Man!, later spawning a spiritual successor, Flipping Death. As of May 2018, Zoink has 25 employees. In 2018 Zoink released a new game, Fe.
Thunderful Publishing AB was created alongside Thunderful and is charge of the group's third-party publishing operations. Ed Valiente acts as its managing director since April 2018.
Rising Star Games
Rising Star Games Limited was founded on 10 July 2004 and is based in Hertfordshire. It was set up by Martin Defries as a joint venture between Bergsala Holding and Japanese publisher Marvelous Entertainment. Marvelous Entertainment solds its 50% share in Rising Star Games to Intergrow, another Japanese publisher, in January 2010. Rising Star Games opened a United States office based in California in January 2012. Thunderful acquired Rising Star Games from Bergsala Holding in July 2018, at which point Ed Valiente became its managing director and Defries left the company.