On late Friday, China-based Tencent Holdings announced that it had acquired a majority stake in Riot Games, makers of League of Legends – a DOTA-style online multiplayer game. Riot Games CEO Brandon Beck talked to Gamasutra about the deal extensively, revealing what his company expects to happen under the auspices of the Chinese company known for its diversified operations including instant messaging services, social networking, and online games. According to some reports, in 2010 Tencent held a 20 percent market share in the online games space.
Beck tells Gamasutra that the deal is "technically" an acquisition – in that Tecent now holds a "majority stake" in the company- but that he does not expect that Riot will become the U.S. operations. He also adds that Riot Games will remain independent of its new majority stakeholder, allowing it to continue to develop and grow its popular online game.
"Riot is going to remain completely independent. There are no redundancies, no layoffs, no synergy fishing, no leadership change," Beck said. "Nothing is going to change other than they’re dramatically increasing their holding in the company. They see this more as an investment in a partner."
"We’ve been working together for a long time — over two years," he continued. "Tencent and Riot share a view of the game industry. As important as technology and IP is, the most important thing in the industry are the people and the talent, particularly when you’re trying to innovate and trailblaze. To keep people exited, motivated, hungry to succeed, and maximize creativity, you have to have a really independent and autonomous structure."
Of course, Tencent might see the great potential that a game like League of Legends has in China. By owning more of the company that makes it, Tencent earns more profits in the long run and makes setting up deals for creating pro-gaming leagues and televising events in the region a lot easier.
On a side note, AllThingsD reports that Tencent will end up paying a little less than $400 million to buy out other investors such as Benchmark Capital and FirstMark Capital. These investors, along with "angel investors," have reportedly invested around $18 million into Riot.