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Tencent wants to buy Funcom, which is good news for its Dune game

Tencent already owns pieces of Riot, Epic, Ubisoft, Paradox, PlatinumGames, and others

An early-level character in Conan Exiles squares off against a mastadon.
Conan Exiles
Image: Funcom
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.

Chinese megacorporation Tencent has formally offered to acquire Norwegian game developer Funcom. The all-cash offer has been extended to existing shareholders, and will reportedly pay more than 27% more than the current value of those shares. According to a press release, Funcom’s management supports the proposal. If completed, the acquisition would add to Tencent’s massive collection of high-profile international game studios.

In addition to its back catalog, Funcom is also working on a new survival multiplayer game based on Frank Herbert’s Dune. Today’s press release goes on to state that the developer plans to “increase the ambition level” of that project “with resources being allocated from other initiatives and possible additional financing.”

Founded in 1993, Funcom currently maintains several long-running MMOs, including Anarchy Online (2001), Age of Conan (2008), and Secret World Legends (2012). In 2018 it launched Conan Exiles, an open-world survival game in the vein of Ark: Survival Evolved. Tencent cites the longevity of its existing franchises as one of the reasons it is eager to acquire the company. It’s been a majority investor in Funcom since September 2019.

“We are impressed by Funcom’s strengths as a developer of open-world multiplayer, action and survival games,” said Steven Ma, senior vice president of Tencent. “Funcom has a strong track-record in developing new titles with long life span. We are glad to deepen our relationship with Funcom and look forward to collaborating with Funcom to deliver more exciting and enjoyable game experiences to fans worldwide.”

Tencent emerged as an internet titan thanks to QQ, a web portal and messaging service, and its now billion-user social network WeChat. As a result, founder “Pony” Ma Huateng maintains the title of the wealthiest man in China, with a reported net worth of around $50 billion.

Over the last decade Tencent has used a fraction of its considerable profits to invest heavily in Western game developers and publishers. In 2013 it injected $330 million dollars into North Carolina-based Epic Games, acquiring some 40% of the company in the process. It then went on to snatch up League of Legends developer, California-based Riot Games, in 2015, before riding in to rescue French developer and publisher Ubisoft from a hostile Vivendi takeover in 2018. It also owns a significant portion of Activision Blizzard, Paradox Interactive, PlatinumGames, and others.