Tencent has not invested in Bluehole Studio, the company that makes PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. News reports out of South Korea yesterday claimed that Tencent had acquired a 5 percent stake in the PUBG developer, but Bluehole confirmed to GamesBeat that those reports are false.
This does not mean that Tencent — a Chinese internet behemoth that already owns League of Legends and a piece of Fortnite studio Epic Games — will never invest in the last-player standing shooter phenomenon. Bluehole cofounder and chairman Chang Byung-gyu told Bloomberg that talks are ongoing. Battlegrounds is a massive success in China as well as globally, but Bluehole has only released the game on the Steam PC gaming platform owned by the Bellevue, Washington-based Valve Software. Tencent runs a Steam competitor in China called WeGame.
Bluehole announced earlier today that it’s spinning off a new corporation called PUBG Corp that will dedicate itself solely to developing and growing Battlegrounds. That comes as the game has surpassed 13 million copies sold and has drawn the attention of almost everyone in the multibillion-dollar gaming industry.
This success should continue. The game has never sold at a discount on Steam, and its first holiday shopping season is coming up soon. On top of that, the studio is still working toward the release of the Xbox One version before the end of this year. Bluehole confirmed today that it is also in talks with Sony about a PlayStation 4 port.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is starting to face some more competition, and that could pose some challenges for the game going forward. Earlier this week, Epic — which Tencent owns — released its free-to-play Fortnite Battle Royale mode (part of the crafting game that’s in early access on PC and consoles) this week. It’s possible that could eat Bluehole’s lunch — even if I have my doubts.
For now, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is still one of the biggest games in the world, and you can expect that Tencent has its eye on it.