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Borderlands devs Gearbox could reportedly be sold off by Embracer, sources claim

Mega-corp’s ongoing restructuring efforts in wake of failed $2bn deal looks likely to hit more storied studios

Following the sudden closure of veteran Saints Row devs Volition earlier this month, the next storied video game studio owned by mega-conglomerate Embraver Group to be facing an uncertain future is Borderlands makers Gearbox Entertainment, a new report claims.

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While it seems that Gearbox may avoid the same fate as that suffered by Volition, Embracer is currently considering whether to put the studio up for sale, according to three sources that spoke with Reuters. Embracer picked up Gearbox in 2021, as part of its flurry of studio acquisitions (and the whole of Middle-earth) in recent years.

That rapid expansion is now being followed by widespread restructuring as Embracer recovers from a reported failed deal with the Saudi Arabian-backed Savvy Games Group said to have been worth $2 billion, which also saw the company take a share price hit of more than 40% after it collapsed. Embracer announced in June that it would be closing further studios, cancelling a number of unannounced games and laying off staff as the result of the restructure.

Among the many, many studios and series owned by Embracer are Crystal Dynamics/Tomb Raider, Dambuster/Dead Island, Eidos Montreal/Deus Ex, Coffee Stain/Goat Simulator, Tuxedo Labs/Teardown, 4A Games/Metro, Ghost Ship Games/Deep Rock Galactics, Alone in the Dark and TimeSplitters, along with non-games arms including board games giant Asmodee and comic publishing house Dark Horse. All in all, Embracer’s, uh, embrace includes more than 130 studios, almost 17,000 staff and hundreds of familiar franchises.

A man lifts up his robot arm in Tales From The Borderlands
Image credit: 2K

Embracer’s share prices have risen in the wake of the rumoured Gearbox sale, which Reuters’ sources stressed was still in the stages of discussion and therefore not guaranteed to happen.

Given Embracer’s enormous size and ongoing restructuring efforts, this likely won’t be the last time we’ll see one of its many embraced studios - and the people that work there - facing an uneasy future as we head into 2024.

Perhaps Embracer’s recent troubles will finally teach the games industry a much-needed lesson about consolidation. Then again, given that the record $69 billion Microsoft-Activision Blizzard merger still looks likely to make it through the courts in the coming months, maybe it won’t.

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