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Japanese gaming company Square Enix to sell “Tomb Raider,” “Deux Ex,” and “Thief” to Sweden’s Embracer Group for $300 million

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Japanese gaming company Square Enix to sell “Tomb Raider,” "Deux Ex," and "Thief" to Sweden's Embracer Group for $300 million
Crystal Dynamics developed the Tomb Raider reboot published by Square Enix, which has sold over 30 million units. — Embracer Group

Square Enix is selling the studios behind the “Tomb Raider,” “Deux Ex,” and “Thief” games to Sweden’s Embracer Group for $300 million, cutting its developer position in the West.

The sale, which impacts 1,100 people and is anticipated to finalize in the July-September quarter, is the latest in a series of acquisitions in the video game industry. It includes studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal, and Square Enix Montreal.

The funds will be used to invest in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and the cloud, according to Square Enix, whose biggest franchises include “Final Fantasy” and “Dragon Quest.”

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Last year, the Tokyo-based company stated that it was evaluating its portfolio in order to react to industry developments such as a focus on the metaverse, or the idea that consumers will spend more time in virtual worlds.

The acquisition will give Embracer a backlog of more than 230 games, including 30 big-budget AAA titles, according to the company, which has a reputation for acquisitions and a war fund of 10 billion Swedish krona ($1.02 billion).

In a statement, Square Enix America and Europe CEO Phil Rogers said, “Embracer is the best-kept secret in gaming: a massive, decentralized collection of entrepreneurs whom we are thrilled to become a part of today.”

Some industry experts were astonished by the asset valuation, which included the long-running “Tomb Raider” series, which has sold 88 million units and generated a Hollywood franchise with its characterization of archeologist Lara Croft.

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According to Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at Ampere Analysis, the price indicates “limited competition for acquisition of the assets, perhaps suggesting some post-pandemic softness in valuations for some segments.”

“Interest will be curtailed by the lack of live service expertise,” Harding-Rolls remarked, referring to games that provide continuous, updated action.

“Tomb Raider” is a single-player game, and top games in recent years have required investments similar to big-budget movie productions.

“In different timing and circumstances that could have been a different number but now we are where we are and I’m standing here, so I’m super pleased with that,” Embracer co-founder and CEO Lars Wingefors told a briefing.

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Sony Group Corp, already a pioneer in first-person gaming, announced in February that it would buy Bungie, the developer of “Destiny,” and that it planned to release at least ten live service games.

“Embracer believes there will be an increasingly strong demand for high-quality content, including AAA single-player games, over the decade,” the company said in a statement.

Shubham Sawarkar

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