Disclosure: The organizers of ChinaJoy paid my way to Shanghai. Our coverage remains objective.
SHANGHAI — Tencent Holdings is already the world’s biggest game company. But it has plans to become even bigger with its “Internet plus” strategy.
Tencent chief operating officer Mark Ren said in a speech at the ChinaJoy game trade show that his company’s ambition is to create a series of “pan-entertainment” businesses that link more and more users together. Those entertainment businesses will get the benefit of Tencent’s Internet operations, such as its WeChat messaging service, which has more than 500 million users. Ren’s talk didn’t showcase anything new, but the scope of the ambition has become clear.
The Shenzhen, China-based Tencent got the earliest start in its Internet communications businesses. In 2003, it started its Tencent Games business, and now it owns stakes in companies such as Epic Games (maker of Unreal Engine), Riot Games (maker of League of Legends), and Activision Blizzard (Call of Duty).
But Ren said that “everything is connected” and that connections will play an important role in everything, leading to an “interconnection era.” Tencent’s own Internet Plus strategy mirrors that of the Chinese government.
So Tencent has moved into other industries. In 2012, it started a comic and animation business. In 2013, it started Tencent Literature, a digital books publishing business. In 2014, it started Tencent Pictures. It created an animated movie series, Roco Kingdom, which is benefiting from China’s thirst for film — 10 theaters go up each day.
“The pan-entertainment strategy is not fully implemented, but we have taken many concrete steps and experiments,” Ren said. “In terms of content, we have broad coverage, especially in games, from chess games to the complicated competition games to the big and massive online games. Tencent has covered them all.”
He said that Tencent wants to be the most open platform when it comes to incubating and developing new content. The new entertainment businesses will bring it into closer collaboration with — and perhaps competition with — big companies in Hollywood.
Tencent Literature has already grown to become a $4 billion business.
“We can take the content of games or literature and recompose them into movies and TV series, and that helps us inject fresh blood in the movie industry,” Ren said.
That’s why there’s a lot of collaboration across the different sectors. Ren stressed that Tencent isn’t doing all of the creating itself. He said the company is incubating a lot of ideas from young entrepreneurs and turning those into businesses that fit in with the grand plan.