Enlarge Embrace the Embracer.
One of the last large independent game developers will no longer operate on its own, as Borderlands maker Gearbox Entertainment has merged with Swedish holding company Embracer Group. The Embracer conglomerate already encompasses dozens of mid-size game studios under brands like THQ Nordic, Saber Interactive, and Koch Media.
The deal is initially worth $363 million in cash and stock, a number that could grow by up to roughly $1 billion if Gearbox meets some ambitious earnings goals over the next six years. That represents quite the windfall for Gearbox’s roughly 550 employees in Texas and Quebec, who have jointly owned the studio since its founding in 1999 and will now become significant shareholders in Embracer.
Under Embracer, Gearbox will continue to “operate as an independent studio” under the leadership of founder and CEO Randy Pitchford, the company said in a statement. Pitchford has been embroiled in a number of controversies in recent years over allegations of employee mistreatment, misappropriations of company funds, underpayment of talent, and even tales of leaving pornography at Medieval Times. Pitchford has denied these accusations.
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