Tencent has purchased the remaining 15 percent of Riot Games — creator of hit online multiplayer game League of Legends — making it a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Chinese Internet giant.
“As a result of our continued growth and changing circumstances, we’re shifting to a new structure to recognize and reward Rioters’ contributions — and that first involves a big change to our existing equity program,” said Riot in an blog post. “As part of this effort, our majority investor, Tencent, recently purchased the remaining equity of Riot Games.”
In 2011, Tencent purchased an 85-percent stake in Riot for $350 million, banking on the future success of the MOBA. In the four years that followed, League of Legends became the most popular online game in the world, with 27 million daily active players last year and 67 million active monthly players.
The two studios have remained largely independent, though Tencent controls the League of Legends client in China and the region’s e-sports scene. Rumors said that Riot is in talks to take over control of the Chinese e-sports scene next year, though that might be harder now that Tencent has full control.
We doubt Tencent will change its approach to running Riot, since it has been doing a pretty good job on its own. It was recently named by Fortune as one of the best places to work, and League of Legends is popular in developing countries like Brazil and Turkey, as well as developed countries like Japan, which will be getting its own regional server soon.
Riot doesn’t release statistics on regional activity, so we don’t know if older regions like South Korea, Europe, or China are dwindling in active users. We have seen multiple million dollar club sales in the past six months, alongside million dollar player contracts in China, which suggests the League of Legends player-base in those regions is still growing.
It is not an odd investment for Tencent, given that the Chinese Internet giant has stakes in Activision Blizzard and Epic Games as well. Mobile game integration, which is also a big part of WeChat’s success, is used by over 600 million people worldwide.