Once considered an elite who couldn’t be bested when it came to action-adventure titles, London-based publisher/developer Eidos Interactive may be taking several bids from companies interested in an acquisition. While Electronic Arts and Ubisoft have expressed interest in the past, the two front runners appear to be Square Enix and Warner Bros.
Square Enix, whose success derives primarily from RPGs like the Final Fantasy series, is desperately seeking western talent in order to expand, diversify, and hopefully draw a larger crowd in the American and European markets. SE’s Global President Yoichi Wada recently visited IO Studios in Denmark, the Eidos-owned developer behind the popular Hitman series. After his visit, Wada returned to London to further SE’s negotiations with the house that Lara built.
While Square Enix is not to be taken lightly, its late entry into this acquisition foray may put it at a disadvantage. Many are already predicting that Warner Bros. will be the victor because the global entertainment conglomerate already has a 20 percent stake in the London publisher. Back in April, Warner Bros. gave Eidos’ parent company SCi Entertainment GBP $60 million (USD $87.8 million) to keep it from going under. According to mcvuk.com, Warner Bros. Would have to spend another GBP $20 million for a controlling stake in the firm, and thus authority over Eidos.
In the event that Warner does emerge as the victor, Square Enix could attempt to buy specific components/assets of Eidos, like IO Studios. Also, if Square Enix fails to acquire Eidos, they would certainly be on the hunt for another Western developer. The attempt to appeal to American and European markets is being driven by John Yamamoto, CEO of Square Enix North America.
While Eidos has seen its stock drop around 90 percent over the last year, its latest offering, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Underworld, has been received well by critics and sits on most top 10 sales charts over in Europe.