Gearbox Studios, developers of games like Borderlands and also publishers of stuff like the new Homeworld titles, have been bought by Embracer Group, the same Swedish company that owns THQ Nordic and Koch Media.
The acquisition makes Gearbox the company’s seventh video game holding, alongside other companies like DECA and Saber Interactive.
The purchase includes plans to expand Gearbox’s operations, adding new studios and staff, to “create new brands”, and go looking for more properties (like Homeworld) to buy.
Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford—who will stay on as boss of the company—issued a statement, opening with mention of Embracer’s CEO Lars Wingefors, which reads:
Lars’s vision of Embracer as an allied partner group committed to fueling and accelerating the ambitions of a series of decentralized, successful entrepreneurial companies while magnifying the collective value and advantages of diversification across the entire group is the most brilliant strategy and design for short, medium, and long-term success in this industry that I have ever encountered in my 30 years in this industry. The feeling at Gearbox is that we are just getting started and this transaction is not merely a stimulant for the talent of our employee-owned company, but a propellent for the exciting future we have planned.
Gearbox is responsible for other hits like the Brothers in Arms series, and there’s a Borderlands movie currently being made, which no doubt contributed to Embracer’s interest. No word on whether the sale was equally influenced by Aliens: Colonial Marines and Duke Nukem Forever, though, or the fact that Gearbox’s Battleborn shut down for good this week.
The initial purchase price was $363 million, half in cash and half in Embracer shares, with a further $1 billion to be paid ($360 million shares and the rest in cash) if Gearbox are able to hit, “agreed financial and operational targets in the next six years.”
Update, 9:02am, 2/3/21—2K has sent a statement to clarify its continued relationship with Gearbox, writing,
As the proud publisher of the Borderlands franchise, we are happy for our partners at Gearbox and this exciting new chapter for their organization. The merger does not change 2K’s relationship with Gearbox nor our role as the publisher for the Borderlands IP or any other projects we are currently working on with the studio. We look forward to continuing our long-term partnership with this incredibly talented team and delivering many more exciting entertainment experiences to gaming fans around the world.