Lightspeed and Quantum

Tencent to open new west coast studio to work on AAA next-gen console game

Updated: Story clarified that this is a new studio, separate from Tencent’s TIMi studio that was announced back in May to be opening in LA . 

Tencent Games is opening a new studio in Orange County, just south of LA, in order to make a “a stunning new open-world game” for PS5 and Xbox Series X. 

The studio will be called Lightspeed LA and will be headed up by Rockstar veteran Steve Martin, who had senior roles on both Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2.

“We’re ushering a new era of game culture by combining world-class development with a stress-free work environment,” Martin said in a statement. “From day one, our teams will be focused on building the highest caliber games while promoting integrity, proactivity, collaboration, and creativity.”

And the statements adds: “As part of its core values, LightSpeed Studio will establish a crunch-free and inclusive culture for all of its team members while pushing the games industry to adopt the same practices.

“Combining the global resource and innovative insights of Tencent Games with the knowledge and experience from an outstanding team of industry veterans from teams such as Rockstar Games, Sony VASG, Respawn Entertainment, 2K Games, and Insomniac.”

The studio will be part of Tencent’s Lightspeed & Quantum Studio group, whose main work to date has been the hugely successful PUBG Mobile.

The new statement from Tencent states: “Martin will be serving as the Studio Head and responsible for the formation of the team, construction of the cutting-edge studio environment, and take on the role of Executive Producer of development.” 

It will be interesting to see if Tencent can build a team to successfully create triple-A console titles, something beyond the scope of its interests to date and a very big and long-term bet in terms of returns. Though of course it has the money to take a great shot.

This announcement comes in addition to the recent launch of Tencent’s TIMi studio in LA as well,  as announced by Scott Warner via Twitter, who stated in May: “I am moving on to a new role. I’ll be the studio director of a new AAA operation in North America for Tencent. We will be hiring for all disciplines at all levels so reach out to me for details.”

Warner has history with AAA development, having worked as design director on Halo 4 at 343 Industries, game director on Battlefield Hardline at EA Visceral, and most recently was game director for Ubisoft.

By revenue, Tencent is the world’s largest game publisher – their Q1 2020 financial report pointed at RMB 108 billion ($15.3 billion) in revenue in the three month period ended March 31, 2020. However, much of their growth outside of China has been fuelled by a series of acquisitions and investments, such as Supercell and PlatinumGames.

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