Eidos Interactive is an England-based game company most widely known for its work on the Tomb Raider and Hitman franchises. The developer has worked on many other IP's, including Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures. On April 22, 2009, Eidos became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Square Enix.
Following the business deal, games developed by the company will still carry the Eidos name but games published by the company will carry the new Square Enix Europe label.
The most successful franchises to come out of the company have been the Tomb Raider and Hitman series of games. Both series have received generally positive reviews, and the original Tomb Raider is revered as a classic game of the original Playstation's life cycle. The game was remade and released in 2007 to positive reviews. In the early 2000's, the games spawned two films, both of which were generally well-received. Many regard the Tomb Raider films as the better of a long line of terrible game-to-movie adaptations.
Much like Tomb Raider before it, the Hitman franchise has been popular with critics and also spawned a feature film. The original Hitman, entitled Hitman: Codename 47 was released in the year 2000, and was dismissed by both gamers and critics due to technical glitches and an underwhelming performance. The sequel, dubbed Hitman 2: Silent Assassin was well received and marked the first successful entry into the series. There were two more sequels after that, Hitman: Contracts, and Hitman: Blood Money, both of which were large successes and well received. A film version of the game was released in theatres in the fall of 2007, starring former Deadwood star Timothy Olyphant. The film was poorly received by critics and had a relatively poor showing at the box office, and eventually fell off the radar.
While many publishers have been implicated in meddling with the press to obtain good review scores and the possible sales boost that can come from that, Eidos in particular has received much criticism over the years for their interference with the critical process. Two of their more publicized controversies are described below.
Kane & Lynch and Gamespot
Perhaps their most infamous review controversy, in November 2007, Eidos was implicated in being involved in the firing of Jeff Gerstmann, former Editorial Director of CNET's Gamespot. Gerstmann gave Eidos' major release for that fall, IO Interactive's Kane & Lynch: Dead Men, a 6.0 out of 10. Shortly following, he was let go from his Gamespot position. Insider sources claimed that Gerstmann had been fired for giving the game a low score after Eidos complained to CNET; these claims were corroborated by a massive advertising campaign Eidos had been running with Gamespot--a campaign that skinned the front page of the website with Kane and Lynch imagery and allowed users to edit their own trailers--that promptly ended following the publishing of the review, the text of the review being edited and the video review for the game being pulled from the site shortly after Gerstmann's departure, and the mass exodus of other key staff members in the months following. It was eventually revealed that Eidos had indeed complained to CNET and threatened to pull advertising, but ultimately backed down and had no direct involvement in Gerstmann's firing. Eidos' complaint was one of a handful of complaints from several games publishers over lower-than-average scores for some games during Q4 of 2007; the complaint from Eidos was ultimately the straw that broke the camel's back that led to the CNET administration, whom had seen huge turnover at the time and was generally inexperienced with running a gaming website, losing confidence in Gerstmann and deciding to distance themselves from his editorial direction.
A year after being accused of being one of the primary forces behind Jeff Gerstmann's dismissal, Eidos was again accused of using advertising dollars to buy favorable coverage, this time with British-based Future Publishing. In the week leading up to the game's release, GamesRadar, Future's flagship online gaming portal, began a campaign that saw a Tomb Raider-related article published every day in honor of Tomb Raider Underworld, culminating in the website changing its name to "Tomb Radar" for a day. Future's James Binn lauded the campaign, stating:
“Tomb Raider: Underworld is a great game, well worth the 9/10 scores it is picking up across gaming websites and magazines. Getting the message out there on launch day is essential in the games market and this takeover gives Eidos unprecedented cut through.”
On the heels of the Tomb Radar name change, Gamespot UK's Guy Cooker posted to his Twitter that Eidos had asked any publication scoring the game lower than an 8.0 to hold the review until the following Monday. Commenting on the scandal, a representative from Eidos' PR firm stated (in a statement that was later retracted):
“We’re trying to get the Metacritic rating to be high, and the brand manager in the US that’s handling all of Tomb Raider has asked that we just manage the scores before the game is out, really, just to ensure that we don’t put people off buying the game, basically.”
Ironically, PC Gamer UK--a fellow Future publication whose Tomb Raider: Underworld review was repurposed for Games Radar--thought slightly less of the game than the "across the board" 9/10 scores Binn had noted, scoring it an 86%. However, when they republishing the review for their site, GamesRadar changed the score to a 9 in accordance with their ten-point scale.
Amusingly, Future did not buy domain rights for tombradar.com during the campaign. The domain was purchased by an anonymous third-party, who used the site to lambast the GamesRadar campaign using many of the above quotes. The site has since been taken down.
Purchase By Square Enix
In February 2009, word came out that Square Enix Holdings Co. Ltd. had come to an agreement to purchase the financially struggling Eidos for roughly $120 million. Throughout the remainder of February and March, support was gained by many shareholders, including Warner Bros., for the purchase.
On March 30, 2009, at an emergency meeting of shareholders, the terms set forth by Square Enix were agreed upon by an overwhelming majority.
On April 21st, Eidos stock was delisted, and on the following day, Eidos became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Square Enix Holdings Co. Ltd. Square Enix president Yoichi Wada has stated that Eidos will continue to run as a separate entity under the Square Enix banner, much the same way that Taito is.
Evolution Into SQUARE ENIX EUROPE
As of July 7, 2009, the use of the Eidos name for titles published by the company was discontinued, and subsequent Eidos-developed games have been published under the Square Enix label. Eidos CEO Phil Rogers was appointed the head of the newly reformed Square Enix Europe, and placed in charge of publishing all of Eidos and Square Enix titles in Europe.
The Eidos name has lived on with the internal studios that were using the moniker at the time of Eidos' merger with Square Enix, such as with Deus Ex: Human Revolution developers Eidos Montréal.