August 18, 2020

The video game startups on Tencent’s Europe list

Tencent is on a shopping spree of video game startups in Europe, and buying a stake in France’s Voodoo is its latest move. Here’s who else made the Chinese conglomerate’s list.

Voodoo co-founders Alexandre Yazdi (left) and Laurent Ritter.

Tencent has bought a minority stake in France’s video game maker Voodoo, showing a steady appetite by the Chinese conglomerate for European gaming companies big and small.

Voodoo, a French developer of casual mobile games founded in 2013 and valued at €1.2bn after the latest investment, is one of a dozen on Tencent’s list of deals in the region, and of many more around the world.

Most notably on the global stage, Tencent owns “League of Legends” developer Riot Games, which it invested in first in 2011, and later took over entirely. In Europe, it holds stakes in blockbuster studios like France’s Ubisoft and “Clash of Clans” maker Supercell of Finland.


But Tencent has also taken interest in smaller startups across the region.

For Voodoo, and others before it in Europe, Tencent holds the promise of faster expansion into the Asian market. A global gaming giant, Tencent is also a mammoth investor with mobile expertise, centred around messaging app WeChat, that spans from e-commerce to payments.

"Asia is a strategic market for us with huge potential for our games. But it is very specific and we need a partner to adapt our games there,” says Alexandre Yazdi, Voodoo’s founder and chief executive. “Tencent is the best partner for us as it is the leader in the gaming industry and in China.”

Here are the companies in Tencent’s European video games portfolio, from the most recent deals to the oldest.

  • Voodoo (France)

Founded in 2013 and valued at €1.2bn after the latest investment by Tencent, unveiled August 17.

  • Yager Development (Germany)

The small Berlin-based developer was created in 1999 and is best known for its military shooter “Spec Ops”. It said it would remain independent after Tencent invested an undisclosed amount in February this year.

  • Funcom (Norway)

Owner of the “Conan” franchise. Tencent made an offer to buy Funcom in January this year, valuing the Oslo-based company at $148m. The game developer was already 29%-owned by Tencent since October 2019.

  • Stunlock Studios (Sweden)

Founded in 2010 and best-known for its battle-arena multi-player online games. Tencent bought 31% of the company in October 2019, for $4m. 

  • Sharkmob (Sweden)

100% acquired by Tencent in May last year — before it even released its first game. No financials given for this deal.

  • 1939 Games (Iceland)

The small studio from Reykjavik raised $3.6m in spring 2019 from several investors including Tencent. It makes a digital collectable card game called Kards, which is World War II themed.

  • Fatshark (Sweden)

The maker of the “Warhammer” series was founded in 2007. In January last year, Tencent bought a 36% stake reported to be worth roughly €50m.

  • Ubisoft (France)

The French developer of blockbusters including the “Assassin’s Creed” series. Tencent got a 5% stake in 2018 when Ubisoft was looking for a white knight to fight off an attempt by Vivendi to take control of the company.

  • Frontier Developments (UK)

Tencent bought a 9% stake in July 2017, in a deal worth about £18m. Based in Cambridge and founded in 1994, it made a name for itself with theme park games like “Rollercoaster Tycoon”.

  • Supercell (Finland)

Tencent owns a majority stake of about 84% in the maker of “Clash of Clans”. The deal dates back to 2016 and was done through a consortium. It valued the company at more than $10bn.

  • Paradox Interactive (Sweden)

Created in a 2004 as a spin-off from another gaming company. Makes strategy games for PC. Tencent owns a minority stake of 5% that it bought back in 2016.