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Inside Tencent’s ambition to create a Triple A console game – TechCrunch


Tencent, the largest video game and social networking company in China, has not really managed to scale its popular products in the Western market. Much of the giant’s international expansion has been achieved by investing in companies outside of China, but it is now strengthening its overseas presence through its business. The most profitable business – video games.

Over the past two years, Tencent has significantly expanded the footprints of two of its most successful gaming studios, TiMi Studios and Lightspeed Studios, around the world, hiring local executives to run the games. overseas headquarters.

For an overview of how Tencent is managing its international gaming affiliates and the expectations they have for them, we spoke to Steve Martin, general manager of Lightspeed’s Los apparel division. Angeles. Besides the base in China, Lightspeed currently has offices in the US, Canada, Singapore, UK, France, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and UAE.

IP ambition

Tencent is more noted for its ability to turn established PC games into popular mobile games than an original developer. For example, Lightspeed made a name for itself by creating the mobile version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.

By May, PUBG Mobile has reached sales $8 billion in global player lifetime spendingmake it second highest grossing mobile game in the world behind TiMi’s Honor of Kings, itself considered a continuation of Riot’s League of Legends.

Tencent now wants players to remember it with its own intellectual property. Under the direction of Martin, who was on the development team for Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 at Rockstar Games, the Lightspeed LA office is working on an AAA console game aimed at hardcore gamers worldwide. .

Steve Martin, general manager at Lightspeed LA

While Martin declined to share specifics of the game, he said it would “reflect cultures and sensitivities from around the world”. The game is expected to be completed in two to three years.

“What we are doing is very ambitious,” the executive told TechCrunch.

PUBG Mobile’s success is largely due to the number of Chinese players. Lightspeed LA is clearly going behind a more international crowd.

China’s console market is growing after 15-year ban ending in 2015. But the industry has created $2 billion in sales in China last yearstill modest compared to mobile and PC games, bring in $45.5 billion in revenue by 2021according to industry researcher Niko Partners.

Autonomy

Tencent is known for its strict regulatory approach to game portfolio companyallow them to operate autonomously while providing support as it sees fit.

It seems to be keeping the play for its internal studios abroad. Martin said that while Lightspeed LA has access to technology and operational help from Tencent’s Shenzhen headquarters, on the creative side, everything is done in its 83-employee LA office, will eventually expand to a team of 200, Martin said.

After a decade at Rockstar, the veteran gamer joined Tencent because “there aren’t many major publishers that offer this level of creativity.”

Many Tencent executives, including CEO Pony Ma and chairman Martin Lau, are known for playing games themselves. “When we talk about the game with the board, it’s always our favorite game. Martin said.

Instead of a single mastermind making most decisions on set, Martin oversees a collective of directors in areas ranging from creative and animation to technical functions. For example, when the studio is choosing the soundtrack, the top executives discuss the options, but the decision lies with the sound director. Martin suggests this structure also eliminates the bottleneck of 700 people asking a boss question.

“We want people to feel ownership of the game.”



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