Embracer Group sells Borderlands studio for $460m

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The embattled Embracer Group has sold Borderlands studio Gearbox to Take-Two Interactive for $460m, it’s been announced.

Swedish holding company Embracer Group, in the grip of what might be the biggest case of buyer’s remorse in the industry’s history, has announced that it’s sold Gearbox Entertainment to publisher Take-Two Interactive. The sale price was $460m according to a press release put out by Embracer (and reported by IGN).

There have been reports that Embracer was thinking about selling Gearbox – the studio behind, among other things, the hit Borderlands shooter series – for quite a while now, but the above press release is the first official confirmation to emerge.

The sale means that Take-Two, itself a vast company that has Rockstar Games, 2K and Zynga among its subsidiaries, now owns the rights to Borderlands, Duke Nukem, Homeworld and more besides; Embracer will, however, retain the rights to certain other properties and studios, including Hyper Light Breaker and Lost Boys Interactive.

Read more: Embracer Group | The giant that has changed the videogame industry, for better or worse

Gearbox’s sale is the latest move as Embracer goes through a lengthy restructuring program, partly triggered by the collapse of a $2bn deal last year. As Embracer’s stock prices tumbled in mid-2023, the company began closing studios, cancelling projects and laying off staff. The most recent sale was Saber Interactive, which it sold to a firm called Beacon Interactive for $247m in March.

Of the Gearbox deal, Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors said in his press release, “Today’s announcement marks the result of the final structured divestment process and is an important step in transforming Embracer into the future with notably lower net debt and improved free cash flow. Through the transaction, we lower business risk and improve profitability as we transition to becoming a leaner and more focused company.”

In a curious bit of corporate timing, Gearbox’s deal will close in June – only a few weeks before the first Borderlands film emerges in cinemas this August. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford has been involved in the adaptation, directed by Eli Roth, and has plans to launch a Borderlands 'cinematic universe’ if it’s a success.

“One of the cool things about the movie is we’ve created a cinematic universe that lives side by side with the video game universe,” Pitchford said in February. “And of course, the characters are there and authentic in the themes and even some of the storylines. But they’re independent storylines.”

If Borderlands is indeed a hit, then Embracer won’t be enjoying a share of its profits.

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