Tencent is the world’s largest gaming company. But have you actually heard of them before now? Tencent is huge in China, but most of their fame in the west comes from owning various game studios built here, who often bring translated versions of Tencent’s games to the west under their own banner.
Tencent is described by Wikipedia as “a Chinese investment holding company whose subsidiaries provide media, entertainment, payment systems, internet and mobile phone value-added services and operate online advertising services.” So how did this company, established in 1998 and worth over $330 billion, become the largest gaming company in the world?
Let’s go back to the year of 2009. This year brought a lot of changes for those in the west. This was the first year of Obama’s presidency, the middle of a really bad financial downturn the world over, and the beginning of a little game known as League of Legends. Riot Games was founded in 2006 and launched League of Legends, the beginning of the popular MOBA genre (originated by the Warcraft 3 mod Defense of the Ancients), in 2009. The game quickly become one of the most played games in the world, making roughly $1 billion a year through in-game purchases. This figure caught the eye of Tencent, who invested $231 million for a nearly 70% stake in Riot in 2011. By the end of 2015, Riot was wholly owned by Tencent.
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Hardcore games on mobile may still live on after the Kabam buyout. Their oldest rival, Kixeye has finally launched what may be the best looking game on mobile devices now, War Commander: Rogue Assault. The game looks to offer a level of gameplay not yet achieved on smartphones and tablets.
To top this all off, the game’s creative director was none other than Louis Castle, the co-creator of Command & Conquer, meaning this game has some real pedigree behind it. The game has been in development for 3 years with 2 and a half years of soft launches to refine the experience.
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Everyone remembers QuizUp, right? The quiz app launched as a Trivial Pursuit-esque game where you could level up categories by correctly answering questions about them in battle with other players. Well, after Plain Vanilla’s contract with NBC for a QuizUp game show was canceled, the game has a new owner.
Earlier this year, Glu invested $7.5 million in the company, with the option to buy the entire business in the future. Now, the studio is willing to forgive that debt, and throw in $1.2 million, to own the company outright. It is not known how many employees will make the jump to Glu, as Plain Vanilla has laid off their staff before looking for a buyer.
The condition to the debt forgiveness was that QuizUp be published under the Glu banner before the end of March, but this event has already occurred in both the App Store and Google Play store. As part of the deal, Glu CEO Nick Earl has been appointed to Plain Vanilla’s board as a class II director and will work with the company’s Strategy Committee to plan for the future of Glu in Iceland.
Two of my favorite mobile gaming companies are joining forces, as Netmarble acquires the Vancouver studio of Kabam, possibly for up to $800 million. What this means for Kabam is unknown, as Marvel: Contest of Champions, the studio’s biggest hit, it going along with the deal. Also included in the deal is Transformers: Forged to Fight, another upcoming character-based brawler, which will launch in Q2 2017.
95% of Kabam’s revenues are from the Vancouver studio, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kabam shut down the rest of the business and exit the mobile gaming space. 250 of Kabam’s 600 staffers will join Netmarble as part of the deal. According to Kent Wakefield, COO of Kabam, Netmarble is acquiring Kabam Inc, the entire company. The reasoning that shareholders will get the proceeds based upon their ownership. Then, as a subsidiary of Netmarble, Kabam will spin-off the parts of the company it doesn’t want. This new company will then find a bidder to acquire it. The separate company will not have any active games, but will have some in the pipeline, including a game based on Avatar, being developed by their L.A. Studio.
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