Chinese giant Tencent moves for ‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’

‘PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds’ has become a runaway success on PC, console editions beckon. — Bluehole, Inc pic via AFP SHANGHAI, Sept 30 — The company behind 2017 smash hit “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” has been approached by Tencent, which owns PC gaming’s biggest free-to-play title “League of Legends.”

Last man standing game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” has been PC gaming’s breakout in 2017, and it looks like Tencent wants a piece of the action.

Tencent’s gaming division already runs “King of Glory,” a supremely lucrative team-based mobile battler, and owns a score of high-profile studios around the world.

For example, through its ownership of Finnish Supercell it is linked mobile hits “Clash of Clans” and “Clash Royale,” through a minority stake in Glu, celebrity moneymaker “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood,” and through Riot Games, “League of Legends,” from which “King of Glory” is partially derived.

Now it seems like Tencent is getting involved with “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (or “PUBG” for short.)

It’s opened discussions with South Korean “PUBG” developer, Bluehole, whose chairman Chang Byung-gyu spoke to Bloomberg.

Options include not only a publishing agreement that would help “PUBG” scale up for China, but also Tencent’s purchase of an equity stake in the game’s studio.

And why not? “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” has become the defacto standard for a newly emerged Battle Royale genre, championed by its lead designer Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene, and the studio is riding high.

Rooted to the top spot on Steam’s PC gaming retail charts since a March 2017 release, “PUBG” sold eight million copies partway through August, and 10 million by the six month mark, according to Bluehole statements; data tracking service SteamSpy has “PUBG” ownership at 12.5 million.

With the PC version under heavy development since its March debut, an Xbox One release is anticipated for 2018, with PlayStation 4 next in line after a timed exclusivity period elapses.

Tencent’s interest adds a wrinkle to a disagreement between Bluehole and Epic Games, which provides the software engine that “PUBG” is built on.

Epic has been working on co-operative build-and-shoot game “Fortnite” since 2011, a proposition that gained considerable traction once core “PUBG” conventions were adopted and spun-off into September 26’s free “Fortnite: Battle Royale.”

Bluehole objected to the potential conflict of interest; Tencent purchased a 48 per cent stake in Epic in 2012. — AFP-Relaxnews

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