Embracer Group announced it’s acquisition of Middle-earth Enterprises, the Lord of the Rings franchise rights holder. Along with that acquisition, Embracer announced several other buyouts in the gaming space. We have yet to see the effects of Embracer Group’s rampant purchases.
The world is getting smaller every day, and that’s been especially true when it comes to media in general and the games industry. Embracer Group, not unlike The Thing from The Thing, has been absorbing entities at faster rates recently.
The company has been busy this year in particular, already having acquired Square Enix’s western holdings, which include Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix Montréal. Originally a small Nordic games publisher founded in 2011, Embracer made its first acquisition shortly after and never looked back.
Don’t Forget the Little Guy
Today’s big news is the LOTR franchise buyout, but several other studios have been taken in as well. In addition to Middle-earth Enterprises, Embracer bought Tripwire, known for Maneater, its first Japanese studio, Tatsujin, the hipster retailer Limited Run Games, and karaoke company Singtrix.
These latter buy-outs show Embracer is beginning to diversify its portfolio in new directions. Entering the Japanese market and acquiring smaller studios is a change for Embracer, which has tended towards larger companies. Embracer also aquired Taoplan and revealed plans to make PC ports for Taoplan’s classic shoot ‘em ups. So for PC gamers itching for some nostalgia, the time-honored saying “I see this as an absolute win” fits here.
Alongside the news of The Lord of the Rings franchise buyout, Embracer Group created Embracer Freemode. The new branch seems to be a way to house the group’s newer, smaller studio acquisitions. Embracer claims studios within Embracer Freemode will have more freedom.
Is Freemode really free?
In the announcement, Embracer states, “Freemode provides a global strategic, operational, and financial support ecosystem for its collective of small to mid-sized companies to achieve operational efficiency and effectively grow their businesses to fulfil their long-term goals.” If taken at face value, this seems like a positive. More funding and support for smaller studios is never a bad thing. As long as Embracer stays reletviely hands-off when it comes to the creative direction these studios want to take, this could be a net positive for gamers at large. We have seen mega-corps make promises like this in the past, and it hasn’t always worked out.
Optimistically, you would hope that Embracer Group’s acquisition of The Lord of the Rings will see new games for the franchise. We’ve had too few adaptations overall, and lately, LOTR fans have had to turn to the Shadow of Mordor series to get their Middle-Earth fix. And while the series certainly wasn’t received poorly, it’s also never been a game of the year contender, and not everyone wants an open world third-person action game. It would be lovely to see Embracer Group spark a return of The Lord of the Rings RTS games or even a reboot to the 2003 action-adventure The Hobbit videogame.