On Monday, Japanese game publisher Square-Enix confirmed that it is selling all three of its western video game studios, along with many major game series and intellectual property rights associated with those studios, to European game publisher Embracer.
The sale includes game studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal and Square-Enix Montreal. All three were previously 100% owned by Square-Enix, and Embracer will retain their entire workforce, totaling approximately 1,100 employees, along with popular intellectual property rights such as Tomb Raider, deus exand inheritance from Cainand a $300 million game publishing catalog of “50+ games.”
So far, however, not all intellectual property of the deal has been confirmed, and an announcement from Square Enix states that its western operations “will continue to release franchises, such as just cause, pioneerand life is strange.” This indicates that Square-Enix will retain some of its western intellectual property and that its future collaborations with western game publishers will be through publishing deals with external developers.
…or a quarter of a gear
While console makers Microsoft and Sony have grabbed the headlines Thanks to her own megaton Gamemaker acquisitions Over the past few years, Embracer has quietly built its own roster of mostly European studios over the past decade – and was better known as THQ Nordic as of 2014, after taking over the rights to that fallen publisher’s name (although not all his games). Among its biggest acquisitions over the past 12 months was the video game maker transmission software and board game producer Asmodee games.
However, looking at the balance sheet, those two deals surpassed $1 billion each, while today’s Square Enix deal falls far short of that number. The discrepancy seems odd given that Square-Enix itself is announcing it as part of the series’ 25th anniversary celebrations Tomb Raider Lifetime game sales had exceeded 85 million in October. In comparison, this sales figure ties head-to-head with one of Square-Enix’s most popular game series, dragon questwhich had sold over 83 million games as of August last year. As this is a full IP acquisition, Embracer will likely claim the rights to as well Tomb Raider‘s legacy as a Hollywood film franchise, though the company has yet to confirm whether there were previously rumors of Lara Croft-related productions a live action and an animeare still in progress.
Square-Enix’s recent dealings with western properties have had some issues, particularly after putting a ton of his western studios’ eggs in the uneven, game-as-a-service basket of Marvel’s Avengers– just to see the launch in 2020 fall well short of critical and revenue expectations. The critical 2021 darling followed Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxyled by Eidos Montreal, falls short of sales expectations. Between these disappointments and the total silence of deus ex as a sci-fi adventure series since 2016perhaps Square-Enix’s estimate of the value of its combined western studios had fallen.
Still, Embracer wasted no time in promoting its newly acquired intellectual property. His announcement of the deal confirms that development of “the next mainline” has already begun Tomb Raider game,” complete with “next-gen storytelling and gameplay experiences,” while several other “AAA” projects were teased as being in development by the combined studios.
And soon after the announcement went live, Eidos Montreal confirmed it on an Embracer conference call The next big game would be set in the world of deus ex. The announcement didn’t spell out exactly how Crystal Dynamics’ recently announced work on the Microsoft published Perfectly dark Consequence will go into this deal.