Embracer Group expanding massively into retro gaming

Today’s news certainly makes the cool Embracer Games Archive seem like it was a publicity stunt to build up good will ahead of today’s announcements, regardless of the good intentions of the folk running it.

Source.

Embracer purchases Tatsujin and the rights to the Toaplan catalogue

We are also proud to officially announce that we recently acquired Tatsujin which is Embracer’s first studio located in Japan. Tatsujin is led by Masahiro Yuge, one of the founders of the iconic arcade games studio Toaplan known for games such as Truxton, Snow Bros and Flying Shark. Acquiring the rights to the Toaplan catalogue separately in another deal means Tatsujin with several employees that once created the Toaplan games can now curate these classics and shepherd them into the future.

Embracer purchases Limited Run Games and its Carbon Engine

Embracer Group AB (”Embracer”), through its wholly owned subsidiary Freemode(Embracer Group enters into an agreement to acquire Limited Run Games - Embracer Group) has entered into an agreement to acquire Limited Run Games, Inc. (“Limited Run”) from its founders Josh Fairhurst and Douglas Bogart. Limited Run is a global leading collector-focused publisher of physical video games with a strong brand, established direct-to-consumer channels, and owns the development technology Carbon Engine that ports retro games to modern platforms.

Embracer purchases Bitwave Games and the rights to port and re-print Gimmick (Sunsoft?)

Freemode also acquired Bitwave Games, a Swedish studio with passion for retro games. With the backing of Freemode, Bitwave can expand the internal development team and build a publishing team. Bitwave will bring the highly regarded shoot ’em up games from Toaplan to PC and publish the NES/Famicom classic platformer Gimmick! on console and modern consoles in the west.


A lot to take in, then. I suspect today’s Sunsoft Direct will probably tie in with this. If Embracer has the rights to port Gimmick and publish it “on console and modern consoles”, I wouldn’t be surprised if their back catalogue has been licensed off to Embracer.

I’m not sure whether the ownership of independent studios dedicated to working on retro games is good or bad. Hamster are a relatively small outfit operating out of Japan and seem to have no trouble acquiring the licenses to rerelease many titles - both big and small. United Games are a medium-sized video game publisher that owns Strictly Limited Games and they seem to be doing just fine.

One of the big problems with consolidation in the industry is so many IPs are lying dormant in publisher back catalogues. While a small company like Hamster can afford to spend time and effort releasing obscure games on a weekly basis, priorities shift when big money is involved and games have to be big enough to match that.

The sentiment that Sony should buy Konami so Silent Hill can come back encapsulates this a lot. Konami owns much of the PC Engine back catalogue and I can’t imagine today’s PlayStation in any world entertaining the idea of releasing the PC Engine Mini, or PC Engine games on Wii U Virtual Console, let alone the many Japan-centric games Konami continues to release today at the arcade and on consoles.

So my key worry isn’t about the software or physical goods quality, but what will happen with licensing and whether they will bother focusing on smaller titles that don’t have the X Factor to sustain pricey physical releases and social media attention.


What do you make of this? Is it a postive move for the future of retro gaming on modern systems, or is it going to cause more trouble than if these companies remained independent?

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I’m not really familiar with Embracer group, but retro games have been handled so poorly that I can’t see this interest in them as anything but positive, even if the intentions are purely cash-driven. Many games have been abandoned by their original creators and publishers, who may have been dissolved or simply moved on. Others have been tied up in legal or licensing disputes. The situation with Lunar on the Mega Drive 2 Mini is the most recent example of a fairly minor licensing issue keeping a great game from being released officially. If someone wants to step in and sort all that out and re-release/remake/reboot these old titles then more power to them.

The only possible downside here is if Embracer tries to throw their weight around and stymie the stuff that has proven to REALLY matter, time and time again, the community preservation efforts. Time will tell on that piece.

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