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.