Krafton, the company behind popular battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) on mobile, PC, and console has applied for an initial public offering in its home country of South Korea. Interestingly, the filings reveal that China’s Tencent is Krafton’s second largest shareholder with a 15.5 percent stake through an investment company. Krafton founder Chang Byung-gyu is the largest shareholder with a 16.4 percent stake as of end-2020. According to Reuters, analysts value Krafton at around 20 trillion won ($17.92 billion). Tencent’s stake may pose a threat to a potential PUBG Mobile unban.
While the Chinese giant has considerable sway in the gaming space, owning the likes of Riot Games and Supercell — both of which keep a relatively low profile in India, preferring to have esports organisers run their games to prevent any potential ban as we saw with PUBG Mobile, Tencent’s ties with Krafton aren’t simply restricted to stake ownership.
Tencent-owned Lightspeed & Quantum develops PUBG Mobile and when PUBG Mobile was banned in India, Krafton hired most of Tencent’s employees including its current country head Aneesh Aravind. These details could work against Krafton bringing the game back to India despite teasing a potential return.
Previously, the company invested around $22.4 million in esports company Nodwin. However Nodwin parent company Nazara told IGN India that the investment is in no way linked to the return of the game.
That said, it will be interesting to see what this means for Krafton. Particularly in the light that Indian viewership for PUBG Mobile is second-largest despite the ongoing ban.
During the Indian Gaming Show and Conference 2021 Sean Hyunil Sohn, Head Corporate Development at Krafton remarked on a possible PUBG Mobile return. This happened during an industry fireside chat with Nodwin boss Akshat Rathee.
“I cannot really tell timing or anything because we don’t know yet,” Sohn said in response to Rathee who asked if PUBG Mobile would be returning to India. “We care about Indian market greatly. We will work hard to make it happen.”
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