Changes are afoot at Path Of Exile developers Grinding Gear Games, as Chinese publishers Tencent have bought a controlling stake in the Kiwi studio. Grinding Gear say that Tencent will help them grow and improve their action-RPG, with multiple expansions currently in the pipeline, and insist that the free-to-play game won’t become ‘pay-to-win’.
“We will remain an independent company and there won’t be any big changes to how we operate,” they say. Hmm! Path Of Exile is a corker, going from strength to strength across updates, so it’ll be interesting to see how this develops.
The NZ Herald report that Tencent have nabbed an 80% stake in Grinding Gear for an undisclosed sum. But the developers are convinced they’ll be left to their own devices with the version we play.
“We spoke to CEOs of other companies that Tencent has invested in, and have been assured that Tencent has never tried to interfere with game design or operations outside of China,” Grinding Gear said in an FAQ. “We retain full control of Path of Exile and will only make changes that we feel are best for the game.”
Tencent have their fingers in many pies. They outright own Riot Games, the makers of League Of Legends, and have a big (though non-controlling) stake in Epic Games, the Unreal Engine and Fortnite Battle Royale mob. They also have small stakes in Ubisoft and the Elitists at Frontier Developments, among others.
As for the pay-to-win question, Grinding Gear reply “We will not make any changes to its monetisation on our international servers.” So… business as usual for us? Grinding Gear do say Tencent may demand some special features for the Chinese version, but that if those are good then they’ll roll them out worldwide too. At this point, Grinding Gears’s public stance is very optimistic, thinking this a good match and opportunity for them and the game.
“We have been approached by many potential acquirers over the last five years, but always felt that they didn’t understand Path of Exile, or that they had other agendas (like signing users up to their services),” they say. “Tencent’s agenda is clear: to give us the resources to make Path of Exile as good as it can be.” This includes hiring more folks.
“We’re looking to increase our headcount over the next year from 114 full time employees to around 130,” Grinding Gear managing director Chris Wilson told The NZ Herald. “We’re planning to do more expansions for our games, in parallel, and of course bolstering the team will be really useful in achieving that.”
Righto boss, if you say so.