After a massive year of acquisitions and investments in 2020, the Chinese internet company Tencent has bought another prominent game studio.
It was confirmed on Friday that Tencent has acquired Klei, the developers of Shank and Don’t Starve. Klei confirmed the buyout in a post on its forums.
“I want to take a moment to announce that we have agreed to deal for Tencent to purchase a majority stake in Klei Entertainment,” the studio said. “As part of this agreement, Klei retains full autonomy of creative and operations across all aspects of the studio, including projects, talent, and more.”
As for what will change, founder Jamie Cheng said he will continue to run the studio and there will be no changes to staffing, projects, and operations, though there will be some “boring accounting changes.”
Cheng said he accepted the buyout so he and his team wouldn’t have to worry about finding new projects and publishers to keep the lights on.
“My wish has been to enable people to do their best creative work, to learn and grow, to not have to worry about finances, and be able to enjoy their lives outside the studio. This has not changed,” he said. “This partnership helps us navigate a changing industry, and helps us focus on what we do best: making unique experiences that no one else can.”
Klei and Tencent had actually been working together already, as Tencent partnered with the studio to launch Don’t Starve Together in China on Tencent’s WeGame platform. Klei and Tencent are also working together on Don’t Starve: Newhome for mobile.
Cheng said Klei is happy to sign with Tencent because the company will allow the studio to “retain the level of control that we demand.”
“We’ve been working with Tencent for years and even at points where we disagreed, they were always willing to work with us to find the best solution for everybody involved and defer to us when we felt strongly,” Cheng said.
A report from Niko Partners showed that Tencent made 31 deals in 2020 related to investments in the games industry, which is three times as many deals as it did in 2019. Its biggest deal was the $1.5 billion buyout of Leyou, the parent company of Warframe developer Digital Extremes.
Some of Tencent’s other moves in 2020 included investing in–but not buying outright–the Japanese studio Platinum Games. Tencent also acquired Conan developer Funcom and bought the GTFO studio 10 Chambers.
Tencent now owns or has invested in a great number of gaming companies. It owns Riot (League of Legends), Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile), and Supercell (Clash of Clans), while Tencent also owns a piece of Fortnite studio Epic Games. Tencent also has minority investments in Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, and Bluehole.
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