Report: Embracer closing in on sales of Saber Interactive and Gearbox

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Embracer is closing in on sales of Saber Interactive and Gearbox, it’s reported, with the company looking to shed two of its most noteworthy acquisitions of the last few years in an effort to dig itself out of a financial hole.

The latest news, per Bloomberg, is that Saber Interactive is set to be sold to an investment group in a deal worth up to $500 million – that’s less than the $525 million they paid for the studio in 2020. However, this will have an outsized impact on Embracer’s overall wage bill, as Saber has ballooned in size through acquiring studios like Metro developer 4A Games over the past few years, and has grown to have around 3,500 employees. The sad thing is that this is coming now and not before this part of Embracer had been hit by previous waves of layoffs that have, to date, seen 1,387 employees made lose their jobs in the last two quarters.

Saber Interactive themselves are best known in recent times for the MudRunner series and World War Z, but have big hopes for blockbusting releases with Space Marine 2, Jurassic Park: Survival and others. 4A Games recently announced the VR game Metro Awakening, and Aspyr’s Star Wars remastering efforts are bringing back the classic Battlefront games this month. The Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake also remains on Saber’s books, though development of that has been quite tumultuous.

Elsewhere, there’s reports that the mooted sale of Gearbox is also entering its final stages, though it’s not clear who a buyer is just yet. Originally acquired in a deal valued at $1.3 billion in 2021, Gearbox also ballooned in size as its publishing efforts expanded and studios were brought in under that label. The company headcount leapt from around 600 in April 2021 to 1,300 just a year later thanks to adding Lost Boys Interactive, who had supported Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands during development, absorbing Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studios as they were acquired, and Eidos Shanghai (now Gearbox Studio Shanghai).

In addition to the Borderlands series and its spin-offs – which are published by 2K Games and not Gearbox themselves – they also own the Homeworld franchise, though the third game is in development with private studio Blackbird Interactive, and have been publisher on indie hits like Remnant II, Hyper Light Breaker, Risk of Rain 2 and more.

Spinning off Gearbox and Saber Interactive would be a massive step in Embracer’s restructuring plans after the reported $2 billion funding by Saudi investment fell through last year. Since then they’ve laid off a mind-numbing number of employees, closed several studios, cancelled a bunch of games in an effort to stabilise themselves financially. A big part of that is simply reducing the wage bill, and if they can shrink by roughly 5,000 more employees that will save themselves an awful lot of money. Of course, they also won’t make money on any of the games that are released by these teams going forward, but Embracer will still be a huge publishing group with a lot of projects in the pipeline.

Source: Bloomberg, Eurogamer

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