Square Enix are to sell most of their Western studios and intellectual property such as Tomb Raider, Deux Ex, Thief and Legacy Of Kain to Sweden’s Embracer Group for $300 million (£240 million) in cash, it has been announced. The studios being sold to Embracer include Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montréal and Square Enix Montréal, but not the UK-based Square Enix Collective. This means Square will retain publishing rights to IP including Life Is Strange, Just Cause and Outriders.
The deal transfers around 1,100 staff to Embracer and more than 50 ‘back-catalogue’ games. It’s expected to conclude sometime between July and September, in the second quarter of Embracer’s current financial year, subject to regulatory approvals. Embracer held an hour-long livestream to detail the announcement, which you can watch in full here. Compared to Microsoft’s billion-dollar buying splurge in recent years, Embracer have landed these AAA studios for cheap – they’re only paying the equivalent of 960,000,000 Freddos.
Square Enix have been relatively quiet about the sale of most of their studios outside of Japan, but a statement on their website identified one of the benefits as allowing the company to launch “new businesses by moving forward with investments in fields including blockchain, AI, and the cloud”. Squeenix really love the blockchain. Unfortunately, they’re not the only company seeing potential in the environmentally unfriendly technology, with Take-Two, Epic Games and Ubisoft all keen on it as well.
Not a week seems to go by without Embracer living up to their name and buying another studio. Last week it was the turn of Perfect World Entertainment, publisher of MMOs like Star Trek Online and Neverwinter. Before that it was Lost Boys Interactive, and just a week earlier Embracer nabbed Beamdog through their subsidiary Aspyr Media. Embracer said in March last year that they were engaged with more than 150 companies about becoming part of their group.
The sale to Embracer comes in the same month that Crystal Dynamics announced their next Tomb Raider, built in Unreal Engine 5. Embracer may well see the value in reviving some of the properties Square Enix haven’t done much with in recent years too. The last time we saw a Thief game was more than eight years ago, when John had some fun with it but felt it was doing an impression of Dishonored. The most recent entry in the Legacy Of Kain series, Defiance, was released nearly twenty years ago – long overdue another, perhaps?