Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, announced that their parent company, Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, is taking full control of the company.
Tencent had previously held a 93% stake in Riot since 2011 in a deal worth $231,465,000. It isn’t known yet how much the remaining equity was sold for.
In practical terms it isn’t likely to impact Riot’s product too much. Tencent have been mostly hands-off when it has come to matters relating to the development of League of Legends, and that will almost certainly continue.
The deal comes at a time when Riot themselves are going through some significant changes. The eSports side of their business has generated a lot of interest from wealthy investors, from sports team owners to venture capitalists. This has coincided with Riot admitting they have been re-evaluating the way that their league works, specifically what is happening in regards to the stipend they pay competing teams and merchandising deals. Riot have also recently teased that they will be expanding their portfolio of games, with sources telling Breitbart that they are currently developing a first-person shooter.
How players will feel about this deal is another matter. Tencent recently made the news regarding their involvement in a government-approved scoring system for Chinese citizens called Sesame Credit. The system monitors people’s purchases and social interactions and awards points for approved behaviour while removing points for anything deemed negative in the eyes of the state. These points are then used to get real life rewards ranging from in-app credit for microtransactions to fast-tracking travel paperwork.
Currently the system is opt-in, but the government has said they plan to make it mandatory by 2020. In addition to this, while the current system only offers a scale of rewards, reports indicate that the scoring system shall also start to bring in penalties for low-scoring citizens. Proposed penalties range from limited internet access to being excluded from holding high-ranking job positions.
This has understandably generated a lot of negative publicity for the Tencent, however, it remains to be seen whether this will impact in any way on League of Legends player numbers, a game that has been declared to be the most popular PC game in the world.