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Tencent acquires visual novel publisher Visual Arts

Visual Arts isn't just acquired by Tencent, the company is also seeing a regime change now that its CEO Takahiro Baba is retiring.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

July 27, 2023

2 Min Read
Key art featuring 3 characters from Visual Arts' 2022 mobile game Heaven Burns Red.

Tencent has made another acquisition, this time for Visual Arts. The two companies released a (translated)  joint statement confirming the deal, with Visual Arts stating that it will remain itself "and the staff will continue to do the things it wants to do."

Visual Arts is a Japanese publisher known for publishing or developing visual novels. Across its 32-year history, it's been behind several multimedia projects, including Prima Doll and Stella of the End from its subsidiary Key. Its most recent title was the mobile game Heaven Burns Red in 2022. 

The month of July has seen Tencent make several business moves. Days ago, Tencent announced it gained a majority stake in Dying Light studio Techland. And earlier in the month, it acquired Destruction All-Stars creator Lucid Games via its subsidiary Lightspeed Studios.

Alongside the acquisition, Visual Arts CEO Takahiro Baba announced his successor. In his place will be Genki Tenkumo, an executive director for the company. 

How Visual Arts got bought up by Tencent

Usually, the Chinese tech giant buys varying levels of stock (or invests) in companies, often those with mainstream presence. Visual novels are a bit more of a niche market for Tencent, but the circumstances of this acquisition aren't like the typical stories we hear about this. 

Baba explained that his retirement was spurred by Visual Arts lacking an eventual successor to take over. Because his family owns all stocks in the private enterprise, the company would close if something happened to him. 

He and other key staff looked for a company that would be the best fit for Visual Arts, which eventually led to Tencent. With his retirement, all his shares will go to the new parent company, and he'll advise the company on its future projects.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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