MMO Business Roundup: The Gearbox sale, GDC 2024, and layoffs for SEGA and Smilegate


Welcome back to another quick roundup of some MMO and MMO-adjacent industry news!

Embracer – The ailing games giant announced this morning that the rumored sale of Gearbox is indeed happening. The company has sold Gearbox Entertainment to Take-Two Interactive for a whopping $460M. However, the sale does not include Cryptic Studios (Neverwinter and Star Trek Online) or even Gearbox Publishing (which is basically the publishing division of Perfect World Entertainment), so Embracer is keeping all of the MMO-related stuff we care about here on MOP. In fact, we just covered the full story of what’s going on with Cryptic, whose games and apparently jobs are slowly being transferred to the Embracer-owned Deca.

SEGA – In spite of SEGA’s overt attempts at unionbusting, the 150 members of Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega – i.e, AEGIS, the union at SEGA America – ratified a union contract with SEGA this week. It includes layoff protections, improved raises and severance, and support for work-from-home workers. Of course, it won’t help the 50 or so union workers SEGA pointedly laid off in the middle of negotiations – or the 240 laid off from Sega Europe today.

GDC – With the 2024 Game Developers Conference over, con organizers are recapping the stats: The event hosted “nearly 30,000 registered attendees,” with over a thousand speakers, 325 companies, and 730 sessions. GDC 2025 is set for March 17th-21st, 2025, once again at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Smilegate – Finally, we come to another studio closure, this one for Smilegate, which our readers will recognize as the company behind Lost Ark and Ark Survival Ascended. Smilegate has apparently closed Smilegate Barcelona and laid off everyone who worked there, including its world director. According to GIbiz, it was working on an “unannounced open-world” title.

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