In the land of PC gaming’s superstar studios, even giants are subject to the whims of commerce. Riot Games, creator of League of Legends, announced to its employees on Thursday that Chinese investment holding titan Tencent had fully purchased the company for an unstated amount of money. This news follows a similar announcement from 2011, when Tencent first purchased 70% of Riot’s assets. This week’s development merely saw Tencent obtain the rest of Riot’s equity.
With an estimated 67 million monthly players, League of Legends is one of the gaming industry’s crown jewels when it comes to both popularity and monetization. Its popularity has exploded since its first release in 2009, and Riot recently announced that the company is planning to implement a massive overhaul for the game’s rather archaic interface client. The game made $624 million microtransactions in 2013, and reportedly made over $1 billion in 2014 from microtransactions.
It is no small wonder, then, why one of China’s largest investment companies saw promise in League of Legends. The game is massively popular in China, topping the country’s top 3 PC gaming charts. Moreover, Tencent is valued at $200 billion, which places them ahead of China’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group. Tencent also holds large stakes in Activision Blizzard and Epic Games, as well as mobile gaming companies like Glu Mobile.
So far, Riot has only announced that its employee compensation packages will be shifting to a cash-based system. Tencent’s acquisition also opens more doors for Riot, as the Chinese holding firm will likely provide Riot with greater opportunities to market their game in China.
While fans of the game are abuzz with the implications of Tencent’s acquisition, life for League players will likely go unchanged. Whether Riot goes into more detail about the acquisition remains to be seen.