If you play games at all, chances are you've played something connected to Chinese gaming overlord Tencent.
The Shenzhen-based firm is the world’s biggest gaming company by revenue. And on Thursday, it gained another heavyweight ally. Square Enix, the maker of Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider, announced that it’s entered a strategic alliance with Tencent to develop original AAA titles.
The alliance will also include a new joint venture between the duo, and the licensing of existing intellectual properties, said the Tokyo-based Square Enix.
While it’s best known for Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider, Square Enix also owns a slate of other huge titles like Kingdom Hearts, Dragon Quest, Hitman, Deus Ex and Just Cause.
This bombshell news came just a few months after Tencent’s archrival NetEase announced that it would be investing $100 million in Halo’s creator Bungie to develop a new gaming franchise.
But Tencent is way ahead of NetEase in terms of how far its influence has spread. Besides owning Riot Games, Tencent also has stakes in other Western gaming juggernauts like Epic Games and Activision Blizzard.
This isn’t Tencent’s only big move this year. In March, Tencent was lauded as a “savior” of Ubisoft after it bought a 5% stake in the French studio, which in turn helped it stave off a hostile takeover by Vivendi.
Many Chinese internet users are excited by the news, hoping Tencent can bring more titles to China through this alliance.
One gamer wrote, “This means Shadow of the Tomb Raider is sure to launch on WeGame.”
WeGame is Tencent’s own gaming distribution platform, aiming to challenge Valve’s dominant platform, Steam.
But bringing blockbuster games to a highly-censored market like China has proven to be extremely difficult, even for a company as big as Tencent. Tencent recently tried to launch Monster Hunter: World in China, only to see it being taken down by authorities within days.
Given the setback for Monster Hunter: World, gamers wonder whether Square Enix games like Hitman will survive the jump to China.
One gamer wrote, “If an animal-hacking game could be getting complaints, I wonder if people-hacking games would be shot dead before it gets anywhere with the censors”.