Saber Interactive’s Potential Transition to Privately-Owned Company

Saber Interactive, currently under Embracer Group AB, is allegedly being bought by a group of private investors for an estimated $500 million, according to a report by Bloomberg. The gaming studio, which is said to have approximately 3,500 employees, will then transform into a private company following the purchase. Saber, however, did not confirm the speculation when approached by Engadget, a technology news outlet.

Saber’s exit from Embracer would mark one of the most impactful financial moves for Embracer since their potential $2 billion deal backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund fell through. This deal was scrutinized and compared to “sportswashing” tactics where popular acquisitions are utilized to uplift the global perception of struggling governments. The criticism followed accusations linking the Saudi government to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in late 2018.

Embracer’s past belt-tightening initiatives include a layoff of around 900 employees in September, reduction of workforce at Chorus developer Fishlabs, further layoffs at Tiny Tina’s Wonderland developer Lost Boys Interactive, Beamdog, Crystal Dynamics, and a subsidiary of Saber, New World Interactive. Studios such as Saints Row’s Volition Games and Campfire Cabal were also shut down by Embracer.

As per the Bloomberg report, this alleged sale of Saber will not affect its role in the development of the much-awaited Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) remake. Saber assumed this responsibility in the summer of 2022, from Aspyr Media. Aspyr reportedly attempted to develop this game for many years, but dismissed their design director and art director shortly after showing a demo to Lucasfilm and Sony in June 2022. Saber took over the project later that summer.

Embracer acquired Saber and around 27 other companies in 2020, in a spree of purchasing gaming studios, over the total reported amount of $525 million. Some of these acquisitions, including Demiurge Studios and New World Interactive, were merged into Saber. The alleged sale of Saber to private investors also reportedly includes the option of including several Embracer subsidiaries in the deal.

However, Gearbox Entertainment, the studio behind Borderlands, will reportedly be too large to be included in this arrangement. Reports suggest that Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford has informed staff of a decision regarding the future of the studio. The rest of the studios under Embracer are allegedly under a matrix of uncertainty. As one anonymous developer told Kotaku, “Vague and in a holding pattern is definitely par for the course at the moment and has been for most of 2023.”