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PUBG team will spin off as subsidiary company

Chinese megacorp Tencent wants an equity stake

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds - art of man in helmet standing in front of an explosion Bluehole Inc.
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

South Korean developer Bluehole, the makers of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, is spinning off a subsidiary company focused exclusively on that game. A report published yesterday by Bloomberg also reveals it is in talks with Tencent, China’s biggest game company, which is interested in purchasing an equity stake.

The new subsidiary company will be called PUBG Corp. and will focus on “accelerating overall business development and managing global operations” for Battlegrounds. Its chief executive officer will be Chang Han Kim, who worked previously as the executive producer for that game.

“Given Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds global success, we want to ensure that we have the operational efficiency that is required to support the game globally,” said Chang Han Kim in a press release. “This new structure allows us to be nimble as we look towards the expansion of strategic business opportunities that include the game’s potential in the esports sector and the growth of PUBG as a true global IP franchise.”

PUBG Corp. will be headquartered in South Korea, with a second office in Madison, Wisconsin. There are also plans for locations in Europe and Japan.

While it will be easy enough to market and sell Battlegrounds and the associated IP within those regions, doing business in China is much more complicated. Partnering with a Chinese company makes sense. Negotiations with Tencent must have happened very recently, however. Just last month Bluehole denied a series of rumors that they had already taken place.

Late last year, Tencent purchased the remaining equity of Riot Games. It also has an investment in Activision Blizzard, Epic Games and Clash of Clans developer Supercell. It has a Steam competitor called WeGame and distributes Candy Crush Saga in China. Recently, Tencent also made a significant investment in developer and publisher Paradox.

Sales continue to pile up for Battlegrounds. Bluehole says it’s sold more than 13 million copies already. Competition is nipping at its heels, however. Last week, Epic Games launched Fortnite: Battle Royale, a free-to-play title that has already beaten Battlegrounds to consoles. Epic claims that more than one million players took part in launch day.

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