Embracer boss cautious on mobile after Square deal: “We need to be realistic – mobile is not easy”

 

Should Square Enix Montréal be worried? Its new owner, Embracer Group boss Lars Wingefors, said yesterday that he is not expecting any meaningful revenue from Square’s mobile arm until after 2025.

During a press and investor briefing following the landmark deal, Wingefors was asked twice about his plans for mobile, meaning Square Enix Montréal, the folks behind the Hitman Sniper games and the multi-award winning GO trilogy. And both answers weren’t exactly enthusiastic.

Embracer had said that it is expecting a rise in earnings in 2024-2025 as new Square games arrive, and Wingefors was asked whether he expects those revenues to come from PC and console or mobile.

“It’s almost entirely premium games in the base case,” said Wingefors. “Talking about mobile, I’m impressed by the team and what they’ve been trying to achieve, doing this on mobile… it’s a challenge in today’s market.”

“So I think we are realistic and we are looking forward at how we could develop this mobile team and this business further. But in my base case I would say it’s more or less all down to premium games and big premium games and the catalogue of that. Then there’s enormous potential in mobile and I’d love to see that coming through.”

Later, Wingefors was asked again how Square Enix Montréal’s mobile teams might fit into its new owner. “I’m sure there is potential for collaboration on mobile across the group,” he said. “And there is a lot of competence across Embracer Group on this but I think Patrick has built an enormous team already and they have some of the most senior mobile games developers there are in this field.”

“So I’m excited about opportunity but also I think we need to be realistic,” he added. “Mobile is not easy. And so I think we are looking into this deeply, how we could build on our strengths and work with the team to create success.”

Naturally, Square Enix Montréal studio head Patrick Naud was rather more upbeat during the call, stating that it has completed a transition from premium to free-to-play and is ready to release its next wave of games later this year.

Square Enix Montréal’s top team: Patrick Naud, Nathalie Gauthier, Mathieu Piau and Ivan Fernandez.

“We’ve built our tech stack and we have our own backend solutions, our live ops engine, our BI suite, our segmentation tools, we’ve retooled all of our processes and pipelines, we hired free-to-play experts,” said Naud. 

“But we still have the same goal, to stand out in this very crowded mobile market by finding better ways to play our triple-A IPs on mobile. We have a very strong core of developers that have been with us through the first years of the studio, and we have added a few key people to the studio, notably, Nathalie and Ivan, that have brought some of their free-to-play expertise. And we’ll be launching our first slate of free-to-play games this year.” 

The first of those is expected to be Tomb Raider Reloaded, a collaboration with Vancouver studio Emerald City Games. It’s an Archero-like spin on the famous franchise that has been in soft launch for just over a year. You can find footage of the game in action above. 

Embracer’s run of acquisitions has naturally included plenty of other mobile talent, including Easybrain, Crazy Labs and Handy Games. Its latest mobile acquisition Square Enix Montréal currently has 144 staff in Canada and 16 folks in London.