Last summer’s “minority investment” gave the Chinese company a 40 percent interest in the Gears of War studio and the right to appoint people to its board of directors.
Epic announced last June that Tencent, a Chinese holding company with interests in, among other things, social networks, online games and other digital media, had acquired a minority stake in the company. But yesterday it came to light that Tencent actually ended up holding 40 percent of Epic, which, while still a minority, is an awfully big slice of the pie, enough to give it the right to name two directors to the Epic board.
“In June 2012, Tencent made a minority investment in Epic Games, purchasing approximately 48.4 percent of outstanding shares of Epic stock, equating to 40 percent of total Epic capital inclusive of both stock and employee stock options,” Epic co-founder Tim Sweeney told Polygon. “We’re thrilled to have a world-leading partner in Tencent, who gives Epic unique access to the Chinese market as we head into the next chapter of our 21-year history as a leading independent developer.”
Tencent spent $330 million on its slice of Epic, but what’s really interesting, at least for the conspiracy-minded out there, is the large number of high-profile departures from the company since the investment. Former President Mike Capps, Gears of War Producer Rod Fergusson and Design Director Cliff Bleszinski have all left the company, as have Adrian Chmielarz, Andrzej Poznanski and Michal Kosieradzki of Bulletstorm studio People Can Fly, which Epic acquired in 2007.
Tencent operates a number of online multiplayer games through its QQ Games portal and also holds a majority stake in League of Legends developer Riot Games.