Square Enix Europe

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Square Enix Limited
Square Enix Europe
Formerly
  • Domark Limited (1984–1990)[1]
  • Domark Group Limited (1990–1996)[1]
  • Eidos Interactive Limited (1996–2009)[1]
TypeSubsidiary
IndustryVideo games
Founded1984; 38 years ago (1984) in Putney, London, England
Founders
  • Mark Strachan
  • Dominic Wheatley
Headquarters,
England
Products
Parent
Subsidiaries§ Studios
Websitesquare-enix-games.com/en_GB/

Square Enix Limited (formerly Domark Limited and Eidos Interactive Limited) is a British subsidiary of Japanese video game company Square Enix, acting as their European publishing arm. The company formerly owned Tomb Raider, which was in development under CentreGold in 1996, and had acquired Crystal Dynamics in 1998, among numerous other assets, until 2022. Square Enix Limited and fellow group company Square Enix Incorporated shared "Phil" Rogers as CEO and other executives from 2013 to 2022.[a]

The company was founded as Domark in 1984 by Mark Strachan and Dominic Wheatley. In 1995, it was acquired by Eidos plc and merged with Simis and Big Red Software to create the subsidiary Eidos Interactive the following year. Ian Livingstone, who held a stake in Domark, became deputy chairman of Eidos[5][6] and stayed in various roles, until his departure from the company in 2013.[7][8] In 2005, Eidos plc was in turn acquired by British games publisher SCi. The combined company, SCi Entertainment Group, which was briefly renamed Eidos, was bought by Square Enix in 2009. In November 2009, Square Enix completed the merger of its existing European branch with Eidos Interactive, trading the resulting company as Square Enix Limited, which assumed the trade name Square Enix Europe.[b][9] In August 2022, Embracer Group completed its acquisition of studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montréal and Square Enix Montréal and intellectual properties Tomb Raider, Deus Ex among other assets, with Rogers and management moving to Embracer.

Square Enix Limited contains Square Enix's Western external publishing division, Square Enix External Studios, and indie initiative division, Square Enix Collective. It is headquartered in Southwark, London (Square Enix London) and has offices in Paris, France (Square Enix France) and Hamburg, Germany (Square Enix Germany).[10][11]

History[edit]

Foundation as Domark (1984–1995)[edit]

Former Domark logo (1984–1996)

In 1984, Mark Strachan and Dominic Wheatley founded Domark as a video game publisher.[12][13][14] Its first title was 1984's Eureka!, written by Ian Livingstone.[15] Located within London's Putney district, the company held its own development team, The Kremlin, in the publisher's headquarters basement.[16] Domark published titles such as Championship Manager (1992) and Hard Drivin' (1989).[17]

Transformation into Eidos Interactive (1995–2005)[edit]

Former Eidos Interactive logo (2003–2009)

On 25 September 1995, Eidos plc, a British software company specializing in video compression, acquired Domark alongside Simis and Big Red Software, for a total of £12.9 million;[18] and on 31 May 1996, Simis and Big Red Software were merged into Domark to create subsidiary Eidos Interactive.[19]

Eidos Interactive acquired CentreGold in April 1996 for £17.6 million. CentreGold consisted of distributor CentreSoft and publisher U.S. Gold, which included subsidiaries Core Design and Silicon Dreams Studio.[20][21] The latter would be re-acquired by its founder, Geoff Brown, through newly founded Geoff Brown Holdings, on 16 December that year.[22] The Eidos Interactive acquisition was months prior to the release of Tomb Raider by Core Design, which CentreGold had acquired two years prior.[23] In 2003, Eidos founded Beautiful Game Studios, which continued its Championship Manager series after splitting with previous developer Sports Interactive.[24]

In March 2005, Eidos admitted that cash reserves had dwindled to £11.9 million during the second half of 2004, and pre-tax losses had grown to £29 million. On 21 March 2005, Eidos received a takeover bid from Elevation Partners, the private equity firm owned by former Electronic Arts president John Riccitiello and with a number of notable partners, including U2's lead singer Bono. This takeover valued the company at £71 million, and would inject £23 million in order to keep the company from bankruptcy in the short term.[25] Elevation stated it plans to take Eidos private for some years to focus on game creation and release schedules and its offer was initially recommended by Eidos's board.[26]

Acquisition by SCi (2005–2009)[edit]

The following day, 22 March, Eidos received a second takeover bid from the British games manufacturer SCi. The company offered £74 million, and tabled a restructuring plan to cut £14 million from annual costs. To fund this takeover, SCi proposed to sell £60 million worth of stock. Eventually, in late April, Elevation Partners formally withdrew its offer, leaving the way clear for SCi.[27] The Eidos plc takeover was finalized on 16 May 2005, with SCi merging itself into Eidos Interactive's parent, renaming it SCi Entertainment Group Limited. After the SCi purchase, former Eidos management board quit.[28] SCi left its Battersea Office and moved into the old Eidos Interactive office on the second floor of Wimbledon Bridge House, 1 Hartfield Road, Wimbledon.[citation needed]

Ars Technica interviewed former Core Design Studio Manager Gavin Rummery in 2015, who said the studio pitched a Tomb Raider remake for the game's 10th anniversary to SCi in 2005.[23] Rummery stated that SCi loved the project, but Crystal Dynamics had their own demo, which then convinced SCi to cancel Core's project.[23][29] In May 2006, Rebellion Developments acquired Core Designs' assets and staff, while the Core brand and intellectual property, including Tomb Raider, remained in SCi's possession.[30] In December 2006, Warner Bros. licensed classic properties to SCi, while investing for 10.3% of SCi shares.[31] In February 2007, SCi/Eidos announced a new studio in Montreal, Quebec, which was later named Eidos-Montréal and developed a new game in the Deus Ex franchise.[32][33] In February 2007, it acquired Rockpool Games, along with its two sister companies Ironstone Partners and SoGoPlay.[34] In April 2007, SCi/Eidos acquired Bluefish Media and Morphene.[35] In 2008, Rogers stated they want to be a "leaner and fitter company", as well as "studio-led".[36] They moved "certain functions" from the United Kingdom to Quebec, Canada, partially due to economic advantages offered by Montreal's government.[36]

On 4 September 2007, the board of SCi Entertainment stated that the company has been approached with a view to making an offer, which has been subject to speculation.[37] On 10 January 2008, SCi announced take over and/or merger talks had been halted.[38][39] As a result, the share price dropped by over 50%. Shareholders called for the resignation of key personnel, including chief executive officer (CEO) Jane Cavanagh, over this issue as well as delays to key titles.[40] On 18 January 2008, Jane Cavanagh, Bill Ennis and Rob Murphy left the company.[41] During SCi 2008 financial report, losses were at £100 million, which newly appointed CEO Phil Rogers, a former Electronic Arts executive, stated were due to the reconstructing plans.[42][43] On 19 September 2008, SCi/Eidos opened a Shanghai-based studio, Eidos Shanghai, consisting of a small team to build up relations in Asia.[44] In 2008, SCi/Eidos set up an entity, which later became Square Enix London Studios in their Wimbledon headquarters.[45][46] In December 2008, SCi rebranded as Eidos plc.[47] Rockpool Games was closed in 2009.[48]

Acquisition by Square Enix (2009–2022)[edit]

In February 2009, Square Enix reached an agreement to purchase renamed Eidos plc for £84.3 million, pending shareholder approval,[49] with an initial aim of fully buying Eidos Interactive on 6 May 2009.[50] The offer was backed by majority stakeholder Warner Bros.[51] The date was brought forward, and Square Enix officially took over Eidos on 22 April 2009.[52][53] Square Enix initially stated that it would let Eidos remain structured as it was at the time of its takeover.[54] In July 2009, it announced that it would merge Eidos with its own pre-existing European subsidiary, Square Enix Limited (itself established in December 1998).[55][56] The merger would create a new entity, tentatively titled Square Enix Europe.[57][58] The merger was completed on 9 November 2009 with the Square Enix Europe name being permanently retained as the resulting company name.[59] The company continued to managed its own Western Studios and Eidos Montreal retained its name.

With the 2013 restructuring of Square Enix,[60] it was hit by layoffs[61] and Rogers became CEO of Americas and Europe.[62][63] In 2014, Square Enix Collective launched, an indie developer service provider headed by Phil Elliot.[64] Around 2015, Square Enix's Western divisions began "officially working across LA and London".[65] In January 2017, Norwegian studio Artplant purchased former Eidos franchise Project I.G.I..[66] In November 2017, Square Enix stopped publishing the Hitman franchise and sold the IP to game developer IO Interactive.[67] In September 2018, COO Mike Sherlock died, with Square Enix's executive team assuming his immediate responsibilities.[68] In 2018, Square Enix branded their external publishing division Square Enix External Studios, which is headed by Jon Brooke and Lee Singleton.[69][70][71] John Heinecke was appointed as CMO for Americas and Europe in October 2018.[72] In June 2020, Square Enix donated $2.4 million to charities around their Western studios and offices, which were partially raised from sales of its discounted Square Enix Eidos Anthology bundle.[73][74] A new mobile studio called Square Enix London Mobile, working on Tomb Raider Reloaded and an unannounced title based on Avatar: The Last Airbender with Navigator Games, was announced on 20 October 2021.[75]

Studios and other assets acquired by Embracer Group (2022–present)[edit]

In May 2022, Square Enix announced to sell several of Square Enix Europe's assets to Embracer Group for $300 million. These includes development studios Crystal Dynamics, Eidos-Montréal, Square Enix Montréal, and intellectual properties such as Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, Legacy of Kain alongside "more than 50 back-catalogue games", with the deal expected to be completed in the second quarter of Embracer's financial year.[76] On 20 May 2022, Embracer Group stated an said that the announcement of this acquisition got an "overwhelming and positive response".[77] The deal was completed on 26 August 2022. Embracer announced that the subsidiaries and IPs would form as their 12th operative group, under the leadership of Phil Rogers and his management.[78] After the sale of those assets and studios, Square Enix Europe will continue with its own projects and publishing games from external studios including Outriders, Life Is Strange and Just Cause.

Divisions[edit]

Former studios[edit]

Games published[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Square Enix Limited's area of activity are former PAL territories, while Square Enix Incorporated's area of activity are the Americas.[3][4]
  2. ^ Square's former British subsidiary was named Square Europe Limited from its incorporation in 1998 to 2003. After the Square and Enix merger, it was renamed to Square Enix Europe Limited and in 2004 to its current legal name, Square Enix Limited.

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]