Square Enix Selling Tomb Raider, Deus Ex And Thief Studios


Tomb Raider & Deus Ex

Image: Square Enix

The Embracer Group, a planet-swallowing mass of video game publishers that already includes the likes of Gearbox and THQ Nordic, tonight announced a deal to purchase a number of storied studios and properties from Square Enix.

While the purchase isn’t final—this is just “an agreement to acquire” them until everything is signed off later in the year—the announcement press release says that if approved it will be a USD$300 million deal. For the $300 mil, Embracer will get hold of:

  • The studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal and Square Enix Montreal (the latter of which will presumably be in for a name change), numbering around 1100 employees worldwide.
  • The “catalogue of IPs” owned and/or worked on by those studios, including Deus Ex, Tomb Raider, Thief, Legacy of Kain and “the continued sales and operations of the studios’ more than 50 back-catalogue games”. Also of interest: “Crystal Dynamics is actively working on several AAA projects, including the next mainline Tomb Raider game that will deliver next-generation storytelling and gameplay experiences.”

Square Enix bought Eidos (and Crystal Dynamics along with it) in 2009, and while initially overseeing a number of well-received reboots of series like Tomb Raider and Deus Ex, later games in those properties—along with licensed efforts like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy— their ownership became something of a meme in recent years, as no matter how high their review scores ended up being, or how many copies they would sell, Square Enix would always say the games had “under-performed”.

Perhaps knowing that the first question most folks would have following a deal like this would be “so what’s happening with those series?”, Embracer’s press release says:

The acquisition brings a compelling pipeline of new installments from beloved franchises and original IPs, including a new Tomb Raider game. The acquisition builds on Embracer’s mission of creating a leading independent global gaming and entertainment ecosystem. Embracer has been particularly impressed by the studios’ rich portfolio of original IP, housing brands with proven global potential such as Tomb Raider and Deus Ex, as well as demonstrating the ability to create AAA games with large and growing fan bases. There are compelling opportunities to organically grow the studios to maximize their commercial opportunities.

Which is vague, but still more hopeful for fans of something like Deus Ex than Square Enix’s complete silence and neglect in recent years. The purchase is “expected to be completed during the second quarter of Embracer’s financial year 22/23 (July-September 2022).

Note that Embracer spent $1.3 billion just on Gearbox. To get all of this, from the experienced studios to the beloved properties for $1 billion less seems…like a steal.

So why sell? Square Enix’s own press release says:

The Transaction will assist the Company in adapting to the changes underway in the global business environment by establishing a more efficient allocation of resources, which will enhance corporate value by accelerating growth in the Company’s core businesses in the digital entertainment domain. In addition, the Transaction enables the launch of new businesses by moving forward with investments in fields including blockchain, AI, and the cloud.

Imagine having to put on your CV that you sold Tomb Raider to at least partially fund some blockchain shit.


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