So it seems that soon, Tomb Raider will no longer be part of Square Enix. This will apparently be true for a number of other formerly-Square Enix franchises too, although the game series starring Lara Croft is the most well-known at this time. This may or may not be a good thing for her, although my hopes are on the former.

Square Enix Parts Ways With Lara Croft (And Co.)

"Tomb Raider" box art.
Maybe this could even be a new opportunity for Lara?

News outlets like CNET and Kotaku are reporting that Square Enix is selling off a large portion of its studios and franchises to Embracer Group (formerly Nordic Games Licensing AB and THQ Nordic AB). Said sale will be for a grand total of $300 million USD. It might not be as big as some of the more recent purchases of game studios by big companies, but it’s not chump change either.

As for what Square Enix is selling? Well apparently, the list of studios consists of Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, and Square Enix Montréal. The last of which will almost certainly see a name change in the near future. You can’t have one of your studios running around with a competitor’s name in it, after all. As you might expect from those studios, that means that the franchises Square Enix is selling includes Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, Legacy of Kain, and numerous other franchises.

As for why Square Enix is selling these studios and franchises? Apparently, they want to use that $300 million USD to invest in “fields including blockchain, AI, and the cloud”. Yeah, apparently, they want to make blockchain games, which will mean having cryptocurrencies and NFTs in those games as well. It seems that Square Enix has caught the crypto and NFT bug. Eh, it’s their money now. They can do whatever they like with it. What we’re concerned about here is what it means for Tomb Raider specifically.

Tomb Raider: A New Hope?

"Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition" box art.
Let’s hope that this is a sunrise for Lara Croft here.

The latest Survivor trilogy (consisting of Tomb Raider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider) marked a new era for Lara Croft, as well as a new version of the legendary explorer for a modern audience. That said though, the trilogy itself is also marred by steadily decreasing reviews. The overall average of the reviews still remains good, and indeed, none of the games themselves have any obvious shortcomings. However, there is definitely a notable difference between the reviews of the first game and reviews of the third and final game.

Also a noticeable decline in story, but your mileage may vary here.

This may be just my opinion, but I also feel like the story quality for the Survivor trilogy declined over the course of the trilogy. Particularly with respect to LGBTQ themes. See, in the first Tomb Raider game, Lara Croft was depicted to have a very close relationship with her female friend Samantha “Sam” Nishimura. A large portion of the story revolved around their relationship, with the ending featuring them in close embrace with each other. A large portion of the fanbase (myself included) interpreted that as Lara being in a relationship with Sam. And yet despite that, Sam disappeared for the next 2 games. Her fate is only revealed through a comic book spinoff. This is not what we wanted to see out of that relationship.

Hence, maybe Square Enix’s selling of Tomb Raider to Embracer Group may be a good thing. Maybe they might actually reintroduce Sam into the game. Maybe they might even make it more obvious that Jonah Maiava is bisexual? But that’s just my hopes on the matter. Take it with a grain of salt until we hear anything official from Embracer Group.

Source: CNET, Kotaku, Square Enix