Tencent grab majority stake in Path Of Exile devs

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.

44 Comments

  1. grimdanfango says:

    “We will remain an independent company and there won’t be any big changes to how we operate”

    Has there ever been an case of a company being bought out where they *didn’t* release this press-release almost-verbatim?

    I wonder if there shall ever come a day when companies will stop insulting our intelligence.

    They might not ruin the game… that’d be admirable. But the notion that nothing will change is preposterous. Something *ALWAYS* changes.

    “Retaining full control” is more nonsense. What that means is, “we retain full control so long as we don’t do anything the parent organisation objects to, at which point they’d obviously jump in and seize control, so we’d better be careful what we do”. That isn’t full control, that’s conditional control.

    Still, I hope they manage to maintain whatever autonomy they can, and don’t get turned into a cash-cow.

  2. sTiLz says:

    Bye bye Path of Exile with it’s excellent example of how Free to Play should be done now that Tencent are the majority shareholders. They’re well known in the industry for what they do

    • Nelyeth says:

      You can’t say that, and not explain what you mean. They’re known for what they do, which is?

      • sTiLz says:

        Google is that way ^^^^^^

        …rather than me having to type out 30 paragraphs of what Tencent has done within the games industry.

        • ninity1011 says:

          Hey, just wanted to let you know, I don’t like tencent either. I don’t trust them. But when you make baseless or otherwise vague claims and people question them, the burden of proof is on you. You should at least link articles that explain their bad habits instead of just telling people to educate themselves

          • sTiLz says:

            I refuse to cater to the spoonfed generation. The information is freely available should they wish to find it.

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            The burden of proof has existed as a legal and philosophical concept for hundreds of years. To which generation are you referring when you state they are spoon-fed? Or is that just an excuse you made up when you realised you didn’t have an argument?

            The whole concept of this is that if someone makes a claim, it’s their responsibility to back it up. It’s not my (or anyone else’s) job to go looking for validations to your fuckin argument.

          • dontnormally says:

            u: bold claim
            me: explain?
            u: lol no idiot

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          Drib says:

          I also like to make claims and then not back them up, just telling people to go figure it out themselves. It’s the best way to pretend like I’m superior without actually doing any work.

          • Kolbex says:

            Then when pressed on it dribble out some nonsense about “the spoonfed generation” when in all probability I am myself 19 and have had to do no significant work for anything in my life.

        • Poor People says:

          The least you could do is drop hints on their business practices. When you’re vague about it people don’t know where to start, because the most common search results for Tencent are financial news that tend to favor gushing over how successful it is. Not even Wikipedia lays out any dirty laundry that it might have. There’s a huge difference between nudging people to a clue and “spoonfeeding” as you put it.

          In the interest of saving time for other folks, you can start by looking up accusations of Tencent promoting unhealthy gaming addiction and their strategy for monopoly in the mobile gaming market. I had to sacrifice some time to dig deep, because it’s harder than expected to find dirt on this company.

        • Viral Frog says:

          If you refuse to support your argument, don’t bother presenting the argument in the first place. Makes you look like you don’t actually have a clue about the topic at hand.

        • Chaoslord AJ says:

          I have neither the time or interest to sift through google either. Why not add 2-3 more sentences instead of just making a hollow statement here?
          How about they made game “bla” then it became pay to win, everyone left, in “x” they added loot boxes and so on…

        • Caiman says:

          sTiLz is well known for being dead wrong.

          Don’t believe me? Google is that way ^^^^^.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        They’re known for squeezing every bit of cash they can from gamers once they take over a game.

        • lasikbear says:

          Are they? Like, did anything change with LoL when they bought into Riot?

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            Yeah, the entire economy is completely and totally different to how it was.

            Before tencent, there were no loot boxes, champion shards/capsules, or any other rng-based gamble-type devices in the game whatsoever.

            With that said, thankfully the non-rng aspects of the free2play bits are still there, although who knows how long it’ll be before they are eroded in favour of what’s introduced. As someone who has played the game since 2009, I can definitely feel a change in the winds with respect to the f2p side of things.

          • Daymare says:

            They added lootboxes.

            They also removed:
            Having to farm for 3 tiers of runes, the best of which costs beetween 10 and 50% of a champion. (You need like, 20 runes for 1 full rune page). The new Runes are much closer to DotA2’s new-ish Talents, and are free for everyone. In their stead, they added shitty emojies, each of which costes like 3 bucks, but since those add virtually nothing to the game (compared to the Runes), I say that’s a fair trade. No one ever uses them and they can be disabled, I think, even.

            They also gave like 5 different “generalized role” rune pages to everyone, whereas you had to pay for all but two before.

          • Nelyeth says:

            Don’t forget to mention that these changes also made it possible to get skins for free, just by playing, while cosmetics used to be paid-only. Overall, as someone who has played for years, LoL is more F2P-friendly (F2P-friendlier? Uh) than it has ever been.

            It’s gotten a bit harder to buy a specific champion you really want, but easier to get random champions. Not having to buy runes is game-changing (those were the only paid-for things that granted an ingame advantage), and free skins are great.

            On the other hand, yeah, most rewards are now random, and everything’s a lootbox. With the ability to “disenchant” rewards for a currency that can be spent to get what you want, and with a “value floor” on what you can get, it’s definitely fair, but I can see why people would dislike it.

        • Viral Frog says:

          I’m sorry, but is Tencent forcing gamers to pay for non-game altering items? No. If they’re squeezing money out of people, it’s not their fault. It’s the players’ fault for spending their money on completely optional content. That is in no way the fault of Tencent. That’s purely the fault of people who either A) have a lot of money to spend or B) can’t control their impulses to purchase useless BS.

      • SaintAn says:

        Here’s something to get you started on your journey: link to youtube.com

      • aepervius says:

        Since the OP is being obtuse let me help you. Basically tencent is a 500 bn$ conglomera in china which helps with the dystopian “social score” they introduced. They have their hand in profitable industry outside of china, in the case of games they (AFAIK) only pay the bills and get dividends on profitable games, and they are the one introducing them to china market and handle that market (e.g. LoL in china IIRC is handled by tencent only).

        What makes them scary is mostly their supposed tie with the chinese government (nobody sees the chinese gov introducing “social score” with a firm which is not in their good will) and the dystopian social score. But beyond that ? for gaming AFAIK they never influenced the game they have majority stake outside the china market.

        Now how you view them, depends whether you care about that “social score” thing… or not.

        • Viral Frog says:

          I’m not sure I understand how Tencent is helping with the social score. Can you elaborate on how Tencent is responsible for the Chinese government’s actions?

          • trashmyego says:

            The social score was initially developed by Tencent and is handled through their software and social networking. It was then essentially adopted by the government with trials in certain cities. I haven’t read up on it lately, but it’s fucking terrifying.

  3. Morcane says:

    Welp, there goes a great free to play game. Can’t really blame them though for saying ‘you know what, we’ve been working on this for a decade now, it’s time for something else’.

  4. Bremze says:

    The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

  5. Kitsunin says:

    This probably won’t be a big deal for those who like PoE (or maybe it will be). But I really hate how Tencent is acquiring everything :(

    • Mokinokaro says:

      I’m extremely wary of Tencent due to their ties to the Chinese government.

      Gaming is a decent way of influencing social media.

  6. MrLoque says:

    link to i.imgur.com

    I love how every single time a studio gets acquired the first thing they cry out loud is “we’ll remain independent without big changes”.

    Yeah, sure! Like… Another company puts a large amount of money to let you do what you want without directing/manipulating your decisions.

    We’re all idiots, are we.

    • Nelyeth says:

      Tencent is known for buying studios and then raking up the dividends without ever interfering though (at least outside of China). They invest a lot of money in game companies, which makes their games bigger and better-funded, which in turns benefits them as they generate more money.

      They’re definitely shady when it comes to their politics in China, and I don’t like the thought of having a gigantic conglomerate owning every single game company, but at least the “they won’t control our decisions” claim seems true.

  7. kingskin says:

    Let’s hope not much changes on the financial side of how the game works. Would be nice if they invested in an engine update of some sort.Dieing to shit because you have to wait for combat animations to finish always irritated me.

    The amount of content is second to none for an arpg. Just wish the combat was more fluid with a slightly more zoomed out view. Saying that, I still managed 600 odd hours so can’t be that bad :).

  8. BaronKreight says:

    Dont they have a share in Riot Games and Epic Games and Supercell? A f2p games giant of sorts. And a chinese one at that. Chinese also own Digital Extremes with their Warframe. Is it good? Is it bad?

    • KidWithKnife says:

      It doesn’t appear to have hurt Warframe. I haven’t played League or any of Epic’s recent releases so I can’t really comment on them.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        Warframe always was a grindfest encouraging people to pay to unlock content, though.

        In regards to LoL, things became centered around lootboxes after the Tencent purchase (though the other methods of loot unlocking are still present.)

        • mymorningcoffee says:

          I admit to having been out of the LoL scene for awhile now, so maybe (definitely) my memory of the acquisition is hazy, but I’d swear loot boxes predated Tencent. Am I misremembering?

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            I might also be misremembering, but I think you’re incorrect. Hextech crafting and the tencent acquisition were in VERY close proximity, but I think the buyout came first.

            EDIT: Just looked it up; Tencent purchased the majority stake in Rito in December ’15,Boxes came in June ’16

  9. Jokerme says:

    It was fun while it lasted. Time to uninstall and never play it again.

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