Square Enix Sells Western Studios
The purchase details
Square Enix is looking to sell their Western studios, and the IPs they developed, to Embracer Group. Square Enix is a large Japanese-based game publisher responsible for Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy.
It's good to note that this isn't a completely sealed deal, yet. There are some hoops to jump through for finalizing and approving the purchase and seeing that everything is above board. The purchase, and its consequences, won't go into effect until July 2022 at the earliest, and September 2022 at the latest. If the deal goes through, it will be for a cool $300 mil USD.
Square Enix has sold its Western-based studios and some pretty killer IPs. Here is the rundown:
- Crystal Dynamics Studio (Tomb Raider)
- Eidos Montreal (Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy)
- Square Enix Montreal (Deus Ex)
The catalog of IPs that Embracer bought includes "the continued sales and operation of" 50+ back-catalogue games. I listed a few above associated with the studios they purchased, but they also got Thief and Legacy of Kain.
When the Square Enix deal closes, Embracer will have 124 studios and 14,000 employees.
The buyer: Embracer Group
You're probably thinking something along the lines of "I've never heard of Embracer Group... who are they?"
Embracer Group has an impressively (some may argue terrifyingly) large reach across the gaming space. As mentioned earlier, they own a lot of studios and publishers. Some of them are pretty small-fry, but their larger studios include Gearbox Software (Borderlands), Coffee Stain (Valheim), Saber Interactive, and THQ Nordic. It's not just the digital gaming space that Embracer has claimed; they also own a major comics publisher, Dark Horse, and they're buying their way into the lucrative tabletop gaming space.
Even though the company is larger than Activision Blizzard (which is now owned by Microsoft) in how many employees they have, they're fairly under the radar. For those really wanting a deeper dive into this company and its position in the industry, I recommend checking out this Kotaku article.
The following list (pulled from the above, hyperlinked article) discusses some of the recent moves they've made. Keep in mind as you read these numbers, deals, and the years they happened that this company has been active since 2011.
- April 2020: Port house Saber Interactive for $525 million
- February 2021: Borderlands maker Gearbox Entertainment for $1.3 billion
- April 2021: Ad-supported mobile game publisher Easybrain for $640 million
- April 2021: Star Wars remaster machine Aspyr Media for $450 million
- August 2021: 3D Realms and seven other studios for $313 million
- December 2021: French board game and RPG publisher Asmodee for $3 billion
The newest Tomb Raider-- what's in store now?
If you hadn't heard before, Tomb Raider's next installation is being developed. There aren't any details to reveal, as it sounds like development is still really early, however, Crystal Dynamics had announced back in early 2021 that it had plans to unify the two Lara Croft timelines: The Survivor Trilogy, AKA the modern reboot, and The OG series. (How they plan to tackle this ambitious task is anyone's guess, but it could be interesting to try and guess the next game's plot based on their goal of unifying these timelines.)
I'm interested in seeing how the newest Tomb Raider's development is going to be impacted by the Embracer purchase. Fingers crossed that the purchase goes through and there's not so much as a hiccup in the transition over, but it wouldn't be the first time a game in the midst of development gets bought and shelved or, worse, completely changed and delayed. Still, I really liked a lot of the core gameplay elements of the newest Tomb Raider series, and I'm excited that they're developing a new one.
What do you think?
Will the new purchase breathe new life into some of these IPs, or will it doom a lot of great games? LMK your takes in the comments.