Tencent buys a chunk of Yooka-Laylee studio Playtonic

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Tencent, the world’s largest game publisher, is now a little larger. Yooka-Laylee developer Playtonic announced today that Tencent has acquired a minority stake in the company, which will help it “create more incredible gaming journeys” and also support its newly-launched publishing division, Playtonic Friends.

“Six years ago we built a cool, exciting rocket ship, set a course we think is right and exciting,” Playtonic founder Gavin Price said. “We are thrilled that Tencent agrees with that course and has provided some rocket fuel to further the reach of our mission!”

Specifics of the deal, including how much of Playtonic Tencent now owns, weren’t revealed, but the studio says it will retain full creative control over its games. The investment will enable Playtonic to become a multi-team developer, “with an emphasis on hiring diverse talent from near and afar, improving their HQ, as well as looking to expand in new locations.”

Tencent is a massive Chinese conglomerate founded in 1998, with interests in a range of online and tech services. To gamers, though, it’s known primarily for its investments in multiple major videogame developers and publishers. It owns Riot Games outright, and holds stakes in Epic Games (40 percent), Ubisoft (five percent), Activision Blizzard (five percent), and Paradox (five percent), and a bunch more. Earlier this year it took a majority interest in Spec Ops: The Line developer Yager, and it’s also got a stake in Discord.

As we said in July when it acquired Sumo Digital, it’s hard to overstate just how much of the videogame industry Tencent owns at this point. But it’s also facing some significant challenges: It was revealed earlier this year that the company was in negotiations with the US government over its holdings in Riot and Epic, and a recent crackdown on gaming by the Chinese government has taken a real toll on its share price. In September, Tencent added its name to a statement signed by 213 Chinese gaming companies pledging to implement and follow strict industry regulations laid out by the government.

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