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Embracer Group buy the whole of Middle-Earth, plus seven more games companies

One gaming giant to own them all

It’s a running gag that Swedish conglomerate Embracer Group regularly buy up large chunks of the games industry, but now they’ve only gone and bought a whole universe. Embracer have acquired the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit properties from long-time owner The Saul Zaentz Company. That includes games, along with movies and other media content, folks. Ol’ Embracer have also acquired seven companies within the gaming realm.

Embracer Group bought Tripwire Interactive, who made shark sim Maneater.Watch on YouTube

The total upfront cost of Embracer’s latest acquisitions is SEK 6 billion (£480 million), with an estimated further deferred cost of SEK 2.2 billion (£175 million) if targets are met. I think that’s about how much my golden superyacht cost in total. Embracer said the acquisitions will strengthen their portfolio – I’m not making this up, they really did – with “profitable IPs and franchises”. There’s even another gaming-related acquisition mentioned in that investor statement that they haven’t made public yet due to "commercial reasons".

Four of the other games companies acquired by Embracer are:

  • Tripwire Interactive (developer and publisher known for Maneater, Killing Floor)
  • Tuxedo Labs (the Swedish studio behind Teardown)
  • Singtrix (the karaoke company formed by former Guitar Hero devs)
  • Limited Run Games (the physical media specialists)

Embracer also announced they're forming a new operating group called Freemode that's dedicated to "retro, classic and heritage gaming". That's led by Lee Guinchard, a former VP of hardware at Activision Blizzard who oversaw work on Guitar Hero and Skylanders during his time there. Freemode will operate Singtrix and Limited Run Games on behalf of Embracer, while Saber Interactive will steward Tripwire and Tuxedo Labs.

Through Freemode, Embracer have also acquired Japanese arcade specialists Tatsujin and the back catalogue of their founder Masahiro Yuge from Toaplan studio. Sweden's Bitwave Games, another acquisition, are bringing Toaplan's shmups to PC. Embracer also announced that Freemode have acquired gaming accessory manufacturers Gioteck.

Tolkien's fantasy world and isn’t the only high-profile great white that Embracer have landed this year. Back in May, I reported on their purchase of plenty of intellectual property and studios from Square Enix for $300 million. That deal included Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief and Legacy Of Kain. The studios acquired by Embracer were Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montréal and Square Enix Montréal. In April, Embracer scored Perfect World Entertainment, Lost Boys Interactive and Beamdog.

The consolidation of the games industry continues apace. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to colonise Mars in my purpose-built rocket ship. Ta-ra!

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