Amazon Games Strikes New Tomb Raider Deal With Embracer

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After acquiring Crystal Dynamics and Tomb Raider, Embracer Group is teaming with Amazon Games to produce a new Tomb Raider game “from the ground up.”

Embracer Group welcomed Crystal Dynamics and other assets from Square Enix into their embrace back in May, and is now taking action with one of their biggest new portfolios—the Tomb Raider franchise. Crystal Dynamics announced a deal with Amazon Games this morning to help bring Lara Croft to the next generation of gaming hardware.

Despite only being in the early stages of development, the next Tomb Raider game will be “a single-player, narrative-driven adventure that continues Lara Croft’s story.” It will utilize Unreal Engine 5 and draw upon “all the elements” that earned the series its spot in gaming history, in order to create “the biggest, most expansive Tomb Raider game to date.”

To this end, Amazon Games will be working with Crystal Dynamics “from the ground up,” from the earliest stages of development through to global publication.

“Amazon Games is committed to bringing players games of the highest quality, from the best developers, across all variety of platforms and genres, and we’re honoured by the opportunity to work with this storied developer and franchise,” said Amazon Games VP, Christoph Hartmann. “Our team is incredibly excited about collaborating with the talented and visionary Crystal Dynamics team to bring the next chapter of Lara Croft’s saga to players around the world.”

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Amazon Games is stepping in to help bring the first post-Square Enix Tomb Raider game to life.

“Crystal Dynamics has an extraordinary opportunity following our acquisition by Embracer to redefine what a publishing relationship is for Tomb Raider,” said Crystal Dynamics studio head, Scot Amos. “Transformative is what we’re looking for, and with Amazon Games, we found a team that shares our creative vision, ambitions, and values for a Lara Croft universe across the spectrum of possibilities. They’re uniquely positioned to rewrite what publishing and development collaborations are, and we’re eager to forge this new path together, starting with building the biggest and best Tomb Raider game yet!”

It’s unclear at this point if Crystal Dynamics is starting over fresh, or continuing the progress that was made on the next Tomb Raider game before the studio was acquired by Embracer. Around the original PlayStation game’s 25th anniversary in early 2021, franchise game director, Will Kerslake, hinted that they were already hard at work planning the next game to meld both the “original” and “survivor” timelines. The shift from Square Enix to Embracer Group already left that project’s future in doubt, and another shift could turn the clock back again.

It also remains to be seen if this deal with Amazon impacts any other corners of the series’ multimedia platform. The film rights were recently abdicated by MGM Studios due to inactivity, losing lead actress Alicia Vikander in the process, and getting a hand on Tomb Raider‘s future screen adaptations would make sense for Amazon Studios, as it looks to expand its Prime Video offerings.

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Fans have been on an emotional roller coaster over the four years. 2018 brought the Vikander-led reboot film and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but since then there have been several intriguing highs and heartbreaking lows—the Covid-19 pandemic halted production on the second movie, which then retooled with Lovecraft County‘s Misha Green as writer and director, only to stall out and end up shelved. Meanwhile, Crystal Dynamics has been making promises about unifying the timelines and games with this stellar new game, but at this rate it will be years before it sees a full release.

At least the upcoming anime adaptation from Netflix still appears to be on track for a release next year. Like the original plans for the next game, this Tomb Raider adaptation is being brought to life by Powerhouse Animation of Castlevania fame, with Lara being voiced by Hayley Atwell—perhaps the most inspired bit of casting the series has ever seen.

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