Sayonara Lara (Happy Friday)

After several years of crisis, games like Tomb Raider: Underworld have seen a revival of the Lara Croft brand (Photo: Square Enix)


Japanese game maker Square Enix relies on higher-margin business models — and gives Lara Croft the pass. wake up call.

Dear GamesWirtschaft reader,
Dear GamesWirtschaft reader,

When I head toward the coffee machine in the morning, my eyes often fall on the huge stretcher frame on the stairs. The panel shows the title idea for Tomb Raider: Underworld With Lara Croft. At the bottom right, employees of the Hamburg Square Enix branch have signed it – a farewell gift at the end of my gaming career eight years ago.

Mark Tomb rider Accompanying me since 1996, when emissaries from game manufacturer Eidos introduced an early version of the PC to editorial offices for the first time. The fact that colleagues’ eyes fell from their faces – Moreover With drawings that were revolutionary at the time “Real 3D Characters” Of polygons and textures to do. Tomb Raider was later praised by the tester “Most Innovative Action Game of the Year”.

Rating: 90%. any thing else?

Happy Friday - Weekly column at GamesWirtschaft
Happy Friday – Weekly column at GamesWirtschaft

In the period that followed, they were Tomb rider– The continuation of the permanent guest on our front pages On the walls of the predominantly male audience: in issue 12/97 there was a giant poster in two parts (Lara Croft in the pool) in – version 11/98 Tomb Raider 3 Like “Back of the Year” (“Even more athletic, smarter, more realistic”), enclosed in the first component of the calendar.

In issue 12/99 he came with the successor at that time Europe’s best-selling computer game magazine In 17 (!) pages about the duel between Indiana Jones 5 And Tomb Raider 4. Also on CD: Exclusive playable demo and video from “Exciting photo session”. Oh, okay.

In short: The editors played the entire Lara Croft theme at the time. Hype escalated at the turn of the millennium with the adaptation of the movie of the same name, eventually making Angelina Jolie a global star. Previously, the video game template was from punk rock band Die Ärzte for the music video men are pigs He was contracted. There is hardly a MediaMarkt that hasn’t had a Lara Croft statue in the entrance area for years.

Tomb rider It was what you call one “family name” Names.

A little later, the ubiquitous brand plunged into a real crisis of meaning: Technically underground dark Angel Critics tore it down – the series switched from the British developer Core Design to the American studio Crystal Dynamics.

Clearly the brand was stuck in a dead end: The world around Lara has changed – which hasn’t evolved (anyway: no Enough), locations and game mechanics have been determined. There was a lack of new momentum.

first with Tomb Raider: LegendAnd Tomb Raider: Anniversary And Tomb Raider: Underworld She started to slowly recover again from 2006. Lara Croft was darker, more vulnerable, more emotional, harder, and less persistent. An evolution similar to that of 007. Daniel Craig Bonds is the complete opposite of Pierce Brosnan’s ’90s outfit.

at the latest with Tomb rider (2013), Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015) and Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018), the series is back on the path of virtue, commercially as well — although the planned numbers were higher than the actual numbers at this point, Square Enix president Matsuda lamented.

This week, Square Enix Lara Croft officially surrendered: The Japanese video game conglomerate sold the brand, including the studio and ongoing game development, to Sweden’s Embracer Group – along with 50 other game brands and two Canadian branches.

Purchase price: nominal approximately 300 million dollars. One did not have the impression that the separation was made with a heavy heart. It was like getting rid of a lump and a leg.

The founder of Embracer Wingefors – now the head of Europe’s largest gaming manufacturer – has a poorly disguised passion for collecting old licenses suitable for renewal. This is exactly what should happen now: because, like other traditional brands – from 007 until now star Wars And LEGO to Udo Lindenberg and the Stones – also available Tomb rider Facing the challenge of continually opening up to new target groups away from the average aging public.

means: Constant renewal and renewal – with a constantly increasing “production value”.

This radical remedy will neither be easy nor cheap. Because even if Tomb rider At least co-founding and shaping the action-adventure genre, demands for Kraxel-Knobel-Baller-Hüpfe games have skyrocketed in recent years – only in terms of scope and technology. perks like Doctrine killerAnd AnonymousAnd Spider Man And horizon Set standards.

This also supports my thesis – albeit not supported by enough evidenceWhy of all things The Embracer Group came into play in a charity award. Not Sony Interactive, which, like Microsoft, has a huge appetite for trademark rights and capabilities, but more like Square Enix’s crown jewels. Final Fantasy You should be interested – and less interested in fully developed publisher structures.

especially that: With Naughty Dog, Santa Monica Studio, Insomniac Games and Guerrilla Games, Sony PlayStation already operates no fewer than four world-class studios. Tomb riderThe principle has been explained and completed by each in his own way. Need a fifth studio for poaching of the same kind? It’s going well.

In Embracer, on the other hand, Lara is the star of the range and thus is in good hands. One can only wish for Crystal Dynamics developers to be next generationTomb rider It gets the necessary ripening time. The change that started earlier from the self-made engine rebranding to Unreal Engine 5 seems like a really good idea.

have a nice weekend

happy petra
Editor in Chief GamesWirtschaft

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