Relic Entertainment is 'returning to its roots as an independent creative studio,' but it's also owned by a global investment firm now

A soldier writing
(Image credit: Sega)

Less than two months after being cut loose by Sega, which resulted in another round of layoffs at the studio, Company of Heroes developer Relic Entertainment says it is "returning to its roots as an independent creative studio" with support from investment firm Emona Capital LLP.

The past year has been rough on Relic. Company of Heroes 3 was met with a mixed reaction when it launched in February 2023, and then in May of that year the studio laid off 121 employees. In March 2024 the studio was sold off by Sega, and a month later a reported 41 more employees were let go in what sounded like a desperation move: Relic said the cuts were made "with the goal of providing Relic the best possible chance to survive in an increasingly volatile industry."

The investment from Emona, "an entrepreneurial investment firm with a global investment mandate," will in theory at least help make that happen.

"We see a huge opportunity to unleash Relic’s creative potential as an independent studio; the talent, technology, and track record we have built over the years are an amazing starting point for us on this next chapter," Relic CEO Justin Dowdeswell said. "Emona Capital are aligned with us on our dual strategy of partnering with IP owners and publishers, while also supporting and investing in our existing IP portfolio."

"Relic is a world-renowned studio, and we are privileged to partner with Justin and the team," Emona managing director Dominik Dolenec said. "We look forward to supporting Relic’s journey."

Relic has been around for more than 25 years, during which it's delivered a number of notable games including the Company of Heroes and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series, Age of Empires 4, and—my favorite of the bunch—the original Homeworld. So I'm glad to see the studio is staying on its feet. But I just can't shake the feeling that the word "independent" is being used a little fast-and-loose here: Relic is now a portfolio company of Emona Capital, and the studio confirmed that Emona is the majority owner.

To me, that doesn't really jibe with the concept of "independence," although I suppose it's not the same as being a wholly owned subsidiary. Relic should be in a better position now than it was last month and last year, but given the catastrophic state of the videogame industry today, not to mention media in general, being owned by a global investment firm—even one "with a particular focus on gaming and technology," as Emona's website says—doesn't entirely ease anxieties about the studio's future. 

In a statement provided to PC Gamer, a Relic representative said that while Emona is the majority owner of Relic now, "they are looking to us and our expertise in the industry and strategy genre to chart the best course forward. We're excited for the opportunity to leverage our core competencies and creative talents in the way we see best."

Emona has investments in a couple other game studios including, perhaps a bit ironically, current Homeworld developer Blackbird Interactive, and—recent layoffs at Blackbird aside—it seems to be a case of so far, so good. Hopefully that remains the case for the long term.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.