Chinese giant Tencent buys minority stake in Epic

Chinese company Tencent is now the proud owner of a minority stake in Unreal Engine creator Epic Games. The “strategic investment” means business as usual at the Gears of War studio, just with more assets available to the developer.

[img_big]center,5971,2012-06-14/UE4_Elemental_Cine_screen_00012.jpg,Tech Demo: Unreal Engine 4[/img_big]

Dr. Michael Capps, President of Epic Games puts it succinctly:

Tencent’s investment will empower Epic to help us do even more of what we do best, which is making great games and game technology. 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.

That partner – Tencent Holdings Limited – is based in China, where it provides mobile and telecommunications value-added services. As a games developer, Tencent has used Epic‘s proprietary Unreal Engine, market leader in 3D game technology.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Tencent trying to buy its way into the western market – it’s a name that was also thrown around when Popcap Games was courting buyers almost exactly a year ago.

And while the casual social giant must have been pretty enticing, Epic Games is an even more shiny acquisition. These days, the Unreal Engine powers games on all platforms, in all genres – and that’s before you consider the games it’s developing itself: Infinity Blade for iOS, the billion-dollar Gears of War franchise, and looking back a little way, the multi-million selling Unreal and Unreal Tournament, which revolutionised gaming as we know it.

David Wallerstein is Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent, and he seems pretty pleased with the deal:

We’ve developed a huge amount of respect for the Epic team for many years now, as dedicated players of Epic’s games and as licensees of Epic’s Unreal Engine technology. Epic’s deep commitment to quality across all of its games and technologies inspires us. They’ve been raising expectations in gaming for two decades now and they’re just getting started.

We have a lot that we can learn from each other, and we look forward to supporting the Epic team as they embark on their next phase of gaming innovation across both emerging and familiar platforms.

Predictably, specific terms of the investment were not disclosed, and the deal itself is expected to close within one month.

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