The board of British company Sumo Group, whose various studios have worked on everything from Hitman to Forza to Disney Infinity, has agreed to a purchase by Chinese giant Tencent for a whopping $1.3 billion, Reuters report.
The acquisition is merely the latest from Tencent, who in recent years have invested in or taken ownership of other gaming companies like:
- Riot Games (Tencent owns a 100% share)
- Epic Games (40%)
- Dontnod (23%)
- Activision Blizzard (5%)
- Ubisoft (5%)
- Paradox (5%)
This is as well as smaller investments in companies like PlatinumGames, Roblox and Bohemia Interactive. And that’s just a selection of some of the better-known studios and publishers. Tencent also owns the video game site Fanbyte.
Sumo Digital was originally founded in England in 2003, and I have very fond memories of one of their first releases, 2004's excellent home console port of Outrun 2. Born from the demise of Infogrames, Sumo’s early success led to their opening a second studio in 2007, before opening many more and then acquiring more still, in both the UK and overseas.
At the time of this proposal from Tencent—who previously already had an 8% stake in the company—Sumo had five primary studios across England and a further five subsidiaries, including Polish studio PixelAnt, which Sumo only just purchased themselves in February.
Coincidentally, just last week The Guardian published a lengthy report on the extent to which Chinese companies like Tencent have been able to exert their influence over the global video games market, from troubles getting Paradox’s games published in China to reports of a shift in the way League of Legends developers Riot were able to design their world, being asked to “consider the Chinese market’s assumed preferences when designing characters.”
Last year Tencent was targeted by then-President Donald Trump, who tried (and ultimately failed) to introduce a ban on US business and customers dealing with any of the company’s services, from messaging service WeChat to potentially any of Tencent’s video games as well.
UPDATE 4:32am - It should be noted that while Tencent have made a $1.3 billion offer, and Sumo’s board “firmly believes the business will benefit from Tencent’s broad videogaming eco-system, proven industry expertise and its strategic resources,” the deal won’t be 100% final unless it gets approval from Sumo’s shareholders. Headline has been updated to reflect this.