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Back 4 Blood dev bought by Chinese tech giant Tencent

Turtle Rock and Tencent say acquisition won’t affect Back 4 Blood

Four Cleaners stand behind a pile of dead Ridden Image: Turtle Rock Studios/Warner Bros. Games
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Chinese tech giant Tencent, which already owns League of Legends developer Riot Games, Supercell, and Funcom, and has stakes in Epic Games, Activision Blizzard, and Ubisoft, is buying Turtle Rock Studios, the developer of Back 4 Blood and Evolve.

Tencent and Turtle Rock announced the acquisition Friday, saying that the video game developer will become part of Tencent “while retaining its independent operations [...] and its existing team will continue to run all studio operations, led by co-founders Phil Robb and Chris Ashton.” Turtle Rock’s acquisition by Tencent “will have no effect on Back 4 Blood,” the Left 4 Dead spiritual sequel that launched in October.

Turtle Rock is just the latest in a quickly growing list of gaming investments that Tencent has made outside of China. Just this year, Tencent has acquired or made majority investments in:

  • Don’t Starve and Griftlands developer Klei Entertainment;
  • Spec Ops: The Line and The Cycle developer Yager;
  • Sumo Group, home to Sumo Digital, developer of Sackboy: A Big Adventure and Hood: Outlaws and Legends;
  • Warhammer: Vermintide developer Fatshark;
  • Wake Up Interactive, parent company of Ninjala developer Soleil and Devil’s Third developer Valhalla Game Studios.

Tencent has also invested smaller amounts in Dontnod Entertainment, Bohemia Interactive, Remedy Entertainment, Bloober Team, and FromSoftware and Spike Chunsoft parent company Kadokawa this year. According to analyst Daniel Ahmad at Niko Partners, Tencent invested in more than 100 video game-related companies in 2021, with nearly a third of those deals being made with companies outside of China. A report from Niko Partners says that Tencent is facing increasing competition from other tech companies, and also hopes to capitalize on big hits from smaller game studios.

Tencent’s growth in global investments also helps mitigate another problem facing the tech giant: increased scrutiny and regulation from Chinese authorities. Regulators in Tencent’s home country have cracked down on tech companies in 2021, issuing new rules about how much time minors can spend each week playing online games, like Tencent’s own mobile hit Honor of Kings.

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