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Square Enix to sell Tomb Raider studio and others to Embracer

The Japan Times

Gaming company Square Enix will reduce its developer presence in the West with the sale of the studios behind franchises Tomb Raider, Deux Ex and Thief to Sweden's Embracer Group for $300 million. The latest in a series of deals in the video games industry, the sale announced on Monday includes studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal and Square Enix Montreal, affects 1,100 employees and is expected to close in the July-September quarter. Square Enix, whose major franchises include Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, said the proceeds will be used to invest in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the cloud. The Tokyo-based company last year said it was reviewing its portfolio to adapt to industry trends such as the focus on the "metaverse," or the idea consumers will spend more time in virtual worlds. Embracer, which has a reputation for acquisitions and a war chest of 10 billion Swedish krona ($1.02 billion), said the deal will give it a pipeline of more than 230 games including 30 big-budget AAA titles.


Square Enix sells its western studios and hits such as Tomb Raider for $300m

The Guardian

The Japanese gaming company behind Final Fantasy is selling off three studios, including the rights to hit franchises including Tomb Raider, in a $300m (£240m) deal. Tokyo-based Square Enix has sold US-headquartered Crystal Dynamics and Canada-based Eidos Montreal and Square Enix Montreal to the Nasdaq-listed Swedish gaming group Embracer. The deal includes the intellectual property (IP) rights to games such as Tomb Raider, which has sold more than 88m units, Deus Ex, Thief and Legacy of Kain. It also includes 50 back catalogue games and will add 1,100 staff to Embracer, taking its global headcount to more than 14,000. "We are thrilled to welcome these studios into the Embracer family," said Lars Wingefors, co-founder and group chief executive at Embracer.


Square Enix to sell 'Tomb Raider' studio and others to Embracer

The Japan Times

Gaming company Square Enix will reduce its developer presence in the West with the sale of the studios behind franchises "Tomb Raider," "Deux Ex" and "Thief" to Sweden's Embracer Group for $300 million. The latest in a series of deals in the video games industry, the sale announced on Monday includes studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montreal and Square Enix Montreal, affects 1,100 employees and is expected to close in the July-September quarter. Square Enix, whose major franchises include "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Quest," said the proceeds will be used to invest in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and the cloud. The Tokyo-based company last year said it was reviewing its portfolio to adapt to industry trends such as the focus on the "metaverse," or the idea consumers will spend more time in virtual worlds. Embracer, which has a reputation for acquisitions and a war chest of 10 billion Swedish krona ($1.02 billion), said the deal will give it a pipeline of more than 230 games including 30 big-budget AAA titles.


Microsoft to buy Activision Blizzard in $69BN metaverse bet

Al Jazeera

Microsoft Corp. agreed to buy Activision Blizzard Inc. in a $68.7 billion deal, uniting two of the biggest forces in video games to create the world's third-biggest gaming company. In its largest purchase ever, Microsoft will pay $95 a share in cash for one of the most legendary gaming publishers, known for titles like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft but which is also grappling with a cultural upheaval over its treatment of women. Activision Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick will continue to serve in that role only until the deal closes, a person familiar with the deal said. It's unclear what position, if any, he would take afterward. Once the transaction is completed, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, who was promoted along with the deal to CEO of Microsoft Gaming.


Video games becoming a new frontier in digital rights

The Japan Times

New York – Critical digital rights battles over privacy, free speech and anonymity are increasingly being fought in video games, a growing market that is becoming a "new political arena," experts and insiders said on Thursday. With the industry set to more than double annual revenues to $300 billion by 2025, questions about how video game operators, designers and governments handle sensitive issues take on added urgency, said participants at RightsCon, a virtual digital rights conference. In recent months, a Hong Kong activist staged a protest against Beijing's rule inside a popular social simulator game called Animal Crossing, and a member of the U.S. Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, campaigned in the game as well. The game Minecraft, meanwhile, has been used to circumvent censorship, with groups using it to create digital libraries and smuggle banned texts into repressive countries. "Video games have become this new political arena," said Micaela Mantegna, founder of GeekyLegal, an Argentinian group that focuses on tech policy.


Tens of thousands of people are building the Earth on a 1:1 scale in Minecraft for people to explore virtually

The Independent - Tech

More than 100,000 people have come together online to build a life-size recreation of the Earth in the popular video game Minecraft. The Build The Earth project was started by a gamer known as PippenFTS using data from Google Earth to generate the terrain on a 1:1 scale. He has called on other players to join him in constructing all man-made structures in every city, town and village across the world. For his part, PippenFTS is starting by recreating his home city of Seattle, virtual brick by virtual brick, on the Minecraft map. "I don't want to stand alone in this project. That's why I'm calling for all Minecrafters around the world – skilled builders and organisations – to join in on this effort," he said in a video calling for players to join him.


TinyBuild: Hello Neighbor indie game hits 30 million downloads

#artificialintelligence

Indie game publisher and developer TinyBuild said that its Hello Neighbor cross-platform game has hit 30 million downloads. The Seattle-based company has also sold two million books based on the franchise. First launched in 2017, Hello Neighbor is now available on PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Android, and iOS. The success of the original horror video game was followed by both a prequel (Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek) and a multiplayer spin-off (Secret Neighbor). The game's audience consists mainly of children eight years old to 16 years old, mainly in the U.S., China, Russia, Germany, France, and South America.


Reporters Without Borders opens a new virtual library inside Minecraft to share banned news stories

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Reporters Without Borders has found a radical new platform for distributing banned journalism in some of the world's most repressive countries: Minecraft. The advocacy group has opened a new virtual space on a dedicated server for the popular video game called'The Uncensored Library,' accessible to any of Minecraft's 145 million monthly players. Inspired by the neoclassical architecture of ancient Rome and Greece, the library will be filled with books containing the text of news stories that have been censored in their countries of origin. To begin with, the library will be stocked with stories from five countries that rank near the bottom of Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index, including Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. The stories will be published in English and whichever language they were originally written in.


'I care about Blizzard but the Hong Kong situation is dire': the gaming convention rocked by protest

The Guardian

Eric did not imagine this would be how he would spend his first BlizzCon. The 26-year-old World of Warcraft (WoW) player from Glendale, California, was at the annual fan event in Anaheim held by Blizzard, the games company behind global hits such as Warcraft, Overwatch and more. Each year, more than 35,000 people pack into the city's vast convention centre to play games, attend talks and share in their fandom. But at this year's event, held last weekend, there was a different feel. Instead of WoW cosplay, Eric was sporting a mask as worn by Hong Kong protesters to shield their faces from tear gas and facial recognition.


God of War crowned best game at Bafta games awards, beating Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin's Creed Odyssey

The Independent - Tech

God of War has won most of the big prizes at this year's Bafta Games Awards, including being crowned the best game of the year. The tough action-adventure game saw off other contenders such as Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin's Creed Odyssey to dominate the awards, picking up a variety of technical praise as well as the top prize. Other big winners included Nintendo Labo, the cardboard toys that can be played with the Switch. We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view.