Two games that you generally can’t make regular use of the internet without hearing about in some form are League of Legends, acclaimed MOBA from Riot Games and published by Tencent, and Clash of Clans, an addictive and well-loved mobile strategy game by Supercell. While League of Legends sports 67 million regular players, Clash of Clans has over 25 million downloads on Android and over 19 million user ratings in the iOS App Store, though the number of downloads is unavailable, it’s quite clear that these two games are incredibly popular. According to recent reports, Tencent is negotiating to buy a majority stake in Supercell, about 73% from the current owner Softbank.
According to sources, however, the final approval for the deal has to go through Supercell themselves, and they may not want to go through with it. While vetoing a transfer from a mobile tycoon and investment house to a game publisher may not make much sense from the outside for a game creator, sources say that Softbank gives Supercell full autonomy, allowing them to develop games and run the company the way they want, within reason. To see why Supercell may want to steer clear of Tencent, one need only look to their management of Riot Games. After buying the majority stake in 2011, Tencent wound up buying the game firm up entirely and exerting full control in 2015. While creative control still lies with Riot, as well as public relations on the E-sports scene that League of Legends is famous in, these could fall under Tencent’s control at any time, should they wish it.
At this moment, the details on the possible deal are extremely sparse. Aside from the above comments from anonymous staff at Supercell, nobody involved has said much of anything about the deal. Thus far, there has been no revelation of possible price, any dates or even general timelines, whether SoftBank will keep any shares and what kind of control, if any, that Tencent would be assuming upon gaining majority control of Supercell. For all intents and purposes, the deal could go up in smoke at any moment; talks between Tencent and Softbank could break down, or Supercell could simply veto the deal entirely.