Tencent buys stake in Ubisoft, adding another Western brand to its gaming portfolio
Tencent already has stakes in the companies behind Fortnite and Call of Duty, owns the rights to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in China and created Arena of Valor. Now it’s adding Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry to its enormous roster of games.
This time the company has bought a 5% stake in French publisher Ubisoft, the company behind games like Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs and the Tom Clancy series (which includes Rainbow Six, The Division and Ghost Recon).
It means Tencent can publish and promote some of Ubisoft’s most successful titles on PC and mobile in China, while giving the French company access to the world’s biggest gaming market.
Ubisoft agreed to the deal with Tencent after a drawn-out attempt by French media company Vivendi to buy a majority stake in Ubisoft resulted in a combination of parties buying up Vivendi’s share -- including Tencent.
Analyst Daniel Ahmad of Niko Partners told us that Tencent recently asked Chinese gamers in a survey whether they were interested in playing Rainbow Six Siege -- suggesting it could be one of the first Ubisoft games released in China.
It’s not the first time Tencent has boosted its portfolio by investing in Western games. It has a majority stake in Supercell, the Finnish developer of Clash of Clans and Clash Royale -- among the most popular mobile games in the world over the last few years.
It also spent $2.3 billion for a minority stake in Activision Blizzard, the company behind first-person shooter Call of Duty.
And it’s also bringing games to the West: Just this week it launched PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) for mobile devices around the world, having secured the rights to the hit battle royale game.
PUBG was one of the biggest hits of 2017, but has recently been eclipsed by Fortnite. Tencent won’t mind too much: It also owns 40% of Epic Games, the team behind Fortnite.