Update: According to a statement given to website Polygon, reports that Tencent has invested in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developer Bluehole Studios are false.
You can argue that these stories came from an unknown source, as detailed in the original story below, and that the idea that a company the size of Tencent would want to invest in something that is hot property in gaming right now isn’t entirely unbelievable. But for now it seems that Bluehole Studios are still an independent entity and will continue to be so for the forseeable future.
Original Story: Reports from the Chinese website YiCai Global claim that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developer Bluehole Studios has received financial backing from media giant Tencent.
The report claims that a source at the company told a local news agency of the investment but did not disclose the figure. It is also claimed that, initially, Tencent wanted to acquire Koren-based Bluehole Studio Inc but a deal was rejected by the developer.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has become one of the biggest games of 2017. PlayerUnknown, the alias of modder and now developer Brendan Greene, developed the game following work ARMA2 mod DayZ: Battle Royal and subsequently helped to develop Sony and Daybreak Studios’ H1Z1 King of the Hill. Greene then joined up with developer Bluehole, who wanted to create a Battle Royale style game.
Since then, the game has entered early access and become one of the most popular games available on Steam, one of the most played on streaming service Twitch and also has an exclusive console deal with Xbox. The game has sold over 4 million copies and is estimated to have made $100 million worldwide. The next step appears to be the esports market and competitive play.
Tencent is no stranger to any of these markets and has been flexing its financial muscle heavily in 2017. The company’s most recently announced investments were in the UK. Frontier Developments sold a 9 per cent stake in the company, while Milky Tea studios also received investment to develop new IP and expand their operations. The internet giant also has other heavy gaming interests, especially in esports, with ownership of Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm developer Activision Blizzard and League of Legends developer Riot Games