With the Western gaming industry, or at least the traditional boxed product aspect of it, currently in the doldrums (just ask Max Payne) many eyes have turned Eastwards. Huge audiences, huge development manpower, increasingly huge piles of cash, both real and potential. China especially is slowly moving into (and being moved into for) games, despite having a mainland ban of sorts on consoles, and the next major herald of its intentions comes in the news that Chinese giant Tencent has bought a "minority interest" in Jazz Jackrabbit developer, Epic.
Last year, Tencent bought up League of Legends dev Riot, but they’ve not walked directly into a controlling stake of Epic. The Unreal studio (and, perhaps more important, Unreal engine owner) will remain independent but start to increasingly look at new platforms and territories, presumably in addition to its current practices.
We don’t know how much Tencent paid for their stake, but given the size of Epic these days and given some $400 million changed hands for Riot, it’s not going to be a small sum.
Here’s Epic prez Michael Capps on Tencent: “Their expertise in the global online gaming market is second-to-none, and the opportunity to work with them to bring richer experiences to players all over the world is irresistible. Epic is excited to be full steam ahead on all of its current plans for this generation of games and the next, with the support of a fantastic partner that believes in our strategy and shares our dream.”
Funny, I thought Epic’s dream was making a game in which you can shoot a man in the bottom.
Epic’s not a total stranger to China, as it already has a stake in a company known as Ying Pei Games. Which translates as… Epic Games. It was briefly known as Epic Games China in fact, but things got very confusing there. Anyway, they’re making a cover shooter called Mercenary Ops, not to be confused with Spec Ops.