Three hundred million dollars, or 285 million euros: This is the price that the Swedish group Embracer announced on Monday, May 2, that it was preparing to buy the North American branches of the Japanese video game publisher Square Enix.
The acquisition is due to take effect in the third quarter of 2022 and will complete Embracer’s production of a wealth of video games – and games, period. In fact, in addition to hundreds of video game studios already in its fold, including Gearbox (Border areas), 4A games (Metro Exodus), will (Saints Row), Free radical design (Time splitters), DigixArt (Road 96), Dambuster Studios (Dead Island 2), Saber Interactive (World War Z), Gunfire Games (Darksiders), 3D Realms (bomb), Flying Wild Hog (shadow wars) or Piranha Bytes (ELEX), Embracer also owns Asmodee, the main publisher of board games in France, which it bought in 2021 at a high price of 3 billion euros.
With the acquisition, this time, of Square Enix’s North American subsidiaries, the Swedish group not only pays for video game studios with more than a thousand employees between them: it acquires above all a catalog of more than fifty games, as well as many intellectual properties, some of which is among the most prestigious in the industry – Deus Ex, Thief, The legacy of Cain and especially, tomb Raider.
As described by Square Enix on Monday in a press release, the Japanese company retains ownership of the trademarks. Just because, Outriders and Life is strange. She also explains that this $ 300 million transaction should allow her “investing in blockchain, artificial intelligence and the cloud”.
A price that may have surprised observers, however, as recent months have seen sales of the companies Zynga (acquired by Take-Two Interactive for $ 12.7 billion) and Zenimax Media and Activision Blizzard (acquired by Microsoft, $ 8.1 billion, respectively). and $ 68.7 billion)) reach record levels. Even Embracer had in 2020 paid out $ 525 million (499 million euros) to acquire Saber Interactive, a studio with a less brilliant resume that at the time specialized in transferring existing games to new media.
Two historical studies
In comparison, the small amount of this last transaction is therefore all the more surprising, as in addition to Square Enix Montreal, there is a studio founded in 2011 and responsible for the development of mobile games (especially the series of “Go”: Hitman Go, Lara Croft Go and Deus Ex Go), Embracer mainly gets its fingers in two historical studios: the California Crystal Dynamics and the Canadian Eidos Montreal.
Founded in 1992, Crystal Dynamics was originally best known for Gex, a platform game for the 3DO console, more graphically impressive than playfully striking. After joining the Eidos Interactive team in 1998, the studio revealed its full potential by starting work on the series The legacy of Cainof which he will sign most of the episodes until 2004.
Because of these successes, he received the license in 2006 tomb Raider, confiscated from its creators, the British studio Core Design, also owned by Eidos. Crystal Dynamics then signs a trilogy of new episodes that have been well received by critics, giving a facelift to the icon, where the aura is subsequently damaged.
In 2009, Eidos Interactive was taken over by Square Enix, which tried to diversify its catalog, so far very focused on the Japanese market. Another trilogy tomb Raider is then launched, of which Crystal Dynamics will develop the first two sections: The critical success is even greater, even though sales are gradually running out. After the box in the introductory episode, each sequel achieves a sale that is 20% to 25% lower than the previous opus.
A hard blow for the California studio, followed by the failure of its adaptation of the universe of avengers, from Marvel: heavily criticized when it was released in 2020, it was a flop that cost Square Enix tens of millions of dollars. Currently, in addition to a restart of the shooter series Perfect darkness developed on behalf of Microsoft, Crystal Dynamics is working on a new episode of the series tomb Raiderunveiled April 5, 2022.
For its part, the Canadian studio Eidos Montreal was founded in 2007, almost fifteen months before its British parent company was acquired by Square Enix. On behalf of the Japanese group, he will also work until 2016 to provide new episodes for an aging series that is nonetheless adored by gamers: role-playing games and action games. Deus Ex.
But with less success than Crystal Dynamics, as Eidos Montreal after only two episodes is instead entrusted with the development of the latest opus to date tomb Raider (Shadow of the Tomb Raider, 2018). He has since helped Crystal Dynamics with the game avengersbefore developing his own adaptation of the Marvel universe, a Guardians of the Galaxy critics praised in 2021.