Epic Games--developer of big-name franchises like Gears of War and Infinity Blade, as well as the ubiquitous Unreal Engine technology--announced this morning that it has sold a minority stake of its business to Chinese Internet company Tencent Holdings. Terms of the deal were not announced.
As part of the deal--expected to close this month--Epic will remain an independent entity and will continue to "further expand its game franchises across multiple platforms." Epic and Tencent have a longstanding relationship, as the Chinese company is a current licensee of Epic's Unreal Engine technology.
Speaking to North Carolina newspaper News & Observer, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney explained that a partnership with Tencent will allow the Cary, North Carolina-based developer to tap into the Chinese company's worldwide user base.
"Tencent has by far the largest gaming customer base in China and really impressive and growing operations throughout the rest of Asia and in South America," Sweeney said. "Basically, wherever Epic is not, Tencent is…in a big way."
Sweeney went on to claim that Epic's deal with Tencent was not spurred by the cash it stands to generate from the investment, but rather the opportunities now possible.
"Epic has always been very profitable," he said. "We often have a hard time figuring out how to deploy the money that we do have efficiently, given the amounts that games like Gears of War and Infinity Blade produce."
Tencent Holdings already has a foothold in the US game market, as it currently owns a majority stake in League of Legends developer Riot Games.