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Gearbox bought by owners of THQ Nordic

Oh there ain't no rest for the wicked, money don't grow on trees

Embracer Group, a vast web of European developers and publishers which includes THQ Nordic and Deep Silver, today announced they've swallowed up Gearbox. The gang behind Borderlands and Aliens: Colonial Marines are merging with Embracer to become the seventh operating group within the family. The deal's worth $363 million (£262m) to start. Gearbox say this is cool, and they're planning to grow.

Embracer are paying $363 million (£262m) in cash and shares up front for Gearbox. They say up to another $1015 million (£734m) in cash and shares could potentially follow if Gearbox meet targets over the next six years.

Today's announcement says that Gearbox's plans as part of Embracer include "the expansion of talent at both studios, the creation of new Gearbox studios, and expanded partnerships." They say the merger "enables Gearbox to do more with its existing brands, create new brands, and, potentially, undertake the merger and acquisition of other successful industry and industry-adjacent entities and properties." Dreaming big, then. Gearbox have a publishing arm of their own these days too, remember.

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Embracer (formerly known as THQ Nordic AB, and Nordic Games before that) have 60-odd internal development studios now. They've bought over a dozen in the past six months, including Metro devs 4A Games and Shadow Warrior rebooters Flying Wild Hog.

Randy Pitchford will contine to lead Gearbox and sounds, ah, very professionally enthusiastic about Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors.

"Lars's vision of Embracer as an allied partner group committed to fueling and accelerating the ambitions of a series of decentralized, successful entrepreneurial companies while magnifying the collective value and advantages of diversification across the entire group is the most brilliant strategy and design for short, medium, and long-term success in this industry that I have ever encountered in my 30 years in this industry," Pitchford said. Well then.

A Duke Nukem Forever screenshot showing Duke Nukem smoking a cigar near a sign for the town of Morningwood.

It does fill my heart with dread to see Embracer specifically mention Duke Nukem as one of the "critically acclaimed IP's" that "will stand out in Embracer's vast IP portfolio". Are they threatening to make a sequel to Duke Nukem Forever? Did that not kill Duke stone-dead forever? Police, help, they're threatening me.

This news comes days after Battleborn's servers shut down, rendering Gearbox's 2016 FPS fully unplayable.

Update: 2K Games, the publishers of Borderlands and Battleborn, say they "are happy" for Gearbox and they're still pals.

"The merger does not change 2K's relationship with Gearbox nor our role as the publisher for the Borderlands IP or any other projects we are currently working on with the studio," a spokesperson said in a statement to RPS. "We look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with this incredibly talented team and delivering many more exciting entertainment experiences to gaming fans around the world."

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Alice O'Connor avatar

Alice O'Connor

Associate Editor

Alice has been playing video games since SkiFree and writing about them since 2009, with nine years at RPS. She enjoys immersive sims, roguelikelikes, chunky revolvers, weird little spooky indies, mods, walking simulators, and finding joy in details. Alice lives, swims, and cycles in Scotland.