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Embracer goes on spending spree: buys Lord of the Rings IP rights, Tripwire Interactive, and more

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
(Image credit: Daedalic Entertainment)
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Embracer Group, the parent company for a vast and expanding roster of studios and publishers including THQ Nordic, Gearbox, Plaion (formerly Koch Media) and Saber Interactive, has announced it will acquire Middle-earth Enterprises, which basically means it owns IP rights for The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and a bunch of other Middle-earth related stuff the company doesn't even know about, yet. The purchase price is undisclosed "due to commercial reasons". 

To be clear: the acquisition won't mean Embracer Group will own J.R.R. Tolkien's actual literary works, which remain the property of the Tolkien Estate. It means Embracer Group will own the company which owns the rights to adapt those books into films, videogames, stage plays, placemats, Funko Pops… that sort of thing. If the acquisition is successful, Embracer will adopt Middle-earth Enterprises from The Saul Zaentz Company.

Embracer Group made the agreement through its new Freemode subsidiary, which will provide "a global strategic, operational, and financial support ecosystem for its collective of small to midsize companies to achieve operational efficiency". Less impenetrably corporate is its goal to "expand its operating activities in the retro, classic, and heritage gaming category." That doesn't seem like quite the right place for Lord of the Rings, which will presumably keep spawning new game adaptations until the fiery heat death of the earth, but don't ask me, I'm not a Swedish billionaire.

In addition to buying one of the biggest entertainment names of all time, Embracer also announced a bunch of other acquisitions today. It will acquire Killing Floor studio Tripwire Interactive, as well as Limited Run Games, which specialises in lush physical editions of otherwise digital indie games. Oh, and Tuxedo Labs, the studio responsible for Teardown, is also now an Embracer Group studio under the Saber Interactive subsidiary. All purchases prices remain undisclosed for the same vague "commercial reasons". Finally, LA-based studio Singtrix will also join the Embracer Group fold—they specialise in karaoke systems.

Embracer Group wants to own everything, it seems, and in addition to those five announcements there's another top secret one, which won't be announced today due to—wait for it—"commercial reasons". According to Embracer the acquisition will be "in the range of being among either third or fourth largest of the Transactions".   

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.