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Why games are critical to Tencent's Disney-esque ambitions

In an interesting Backchannel analysis, a former Riot Games employee analyzes how Riot owner Tencent may be trying to build an entertainment empire to rival Disney -- on the back of video games.

Alex Wawro, Contributor

January 27, 2017

1 Min Read

"We can take the content of games or literature and recompose them into movies and TV series, and that helps us inject fresh blood in the movie industry."

- Tencent COO Mark Ren, speaking at Chinajoy in 2015.

A few years back, Chinese firm Tencent was best known as the name behind the mobile game powerhouse WeChat, a cross-platform mobile messaging platform.

Fast forward to now, and many devs know Tencent best as the company behind League of Legends studio Riot Games, Unreal Engine developer Epic Games and, most recentlyClash of Clans/Clash Royale (pictured) operator Supercell.

Given the company's expanding influence of the game industry, developers may appreciate this Backchannel analysis of how Tencent is trying to build a Disney-esque media empire upon a foundation of games, rather than animated films.

"Like Disney, Tencent continues to gobble up valuable IP," writes Jonathan Pan, who currently serves as an eSports advisor to Turner Broadcasting System and has previously worked for Riot Games. "The company announced $20.8 billion of acquisitions and investments in 2016 alone, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Tencent is just starting to test out what it can do with all this content."

He goes on to point to Supercell's experiments with animated shorts, Riot's advances into character-centric League shorts and merchandising, and (Tencent-backed) Activision Blizzard's Warcraft film as evidence that the Chinese media giant is looking to tap into its video game businesses to fuel its publishing and movie-making ambitions.

Keeping in mind that Pan used to work for Tencent-owned Riot, his thoughts on the company's business plan can be read in full over on Backchannel.

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