Lara Croft will no longer be part of Square Enix, as the Japanese publisher is selling the Tomb Raider franchise to invest in emerging tech like blockchain. The company also sold its Thief and Deus Ex IP as well as its three development studios Eidos Interactive, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix Montreal, to Swedish Firm Embracer Group for $300 million.
The “transaction enables the launch of new businesses by moving forward with investments in fields including blockchain, AI, and the cloud,” the company said in a statement.
While Square Enix hasn’t announced what those investments actually are, the move doesn’t come as a shock for anyone who has followed the company’s current trajectory. Blockworks has detailed the company’s interest in blockchain and NFT tech, culminating in a successful blockchain proof-of-concept in November of last year. Blockchain tech might not have been in the cards for titles like Tomb Raider in the company’s grand plan moving forward.
In fact, the company already has NFT digital cards under its belt under the “Shi-San-Sei Million Arthur” brand, created with third-party NFT studio double jump.tokyo.
Square is looking to jump into the play-to-earn space from what we’re seeing, as success stories in games like Axie Infinity fuel demand for play-to-earn games. There’s big money in blockchain-powered games: an estimated $40 million has already been spent on a Ragnarok, a browser-based RPG game that isn’t even out today (it’s slated to release anytime between May and December).
But as of now, there hasn’t really been a happy medium for blockchain-powered games that leverage NFTs and traditional gaming. The backlash against NFT and blockchain integration greeted Ubisoft when they premiered a trailer announcing it for Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Similarly, GSM Game World also walked back on its NFT plans for Stalker 2 36 hours after announcing it.
The deal will close between July and September, according to Square Enix. The company noted that Just Cause, Outriders and Life Is Strange will continue to be published by Square Enix.