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Tencent's new blockbuster US game studio is led by a 'GTA' veteran

It's hoping to create more hit games outside of its native China
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
July 5, 2020
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SHANGHAI, CHINA - AUGUST 01: Tencent Games logo is seen above the company's booth one day before the 2019 China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference (ChinaJoy) at Shanghai New International Expo Center on August 1, 2019 in Shanghai, China. ChinaJoy 2019 will be held on August 2-5 in Shanghai. (Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images)
VCG via Getty Images

Tencent is determined to have more of an impact on gaming outside of China, and not just by pouring money into existing studios. Reuters reports that Tencent Holdings has created a new California studio, LightSpeed LA, that will develop and publish “AAA” (read: blockbuster) titles. The team will be led by former Rockstar Games studio manager Steve Martin and will have alumni from both Rockstar as well as 2K Games, Insomniac and Sony.

The Grand Theft Auto veteran didn’t outline what LightSpeed would work on, but joined the wave of companies hoping to end crunch time with promises of a “stress-free work environment.”

There’s not much mystery behind the strategy. Tencent want half its gaming revenue to come from beyond China, and that means developing games suited to wider audiences like its upcoming Pokémon Unite battler. The new studio won’t end concerns that Tencent is becoming a dominant force in gaming outside of China (it owns Riot Games and has a minority stake in Epic Games), but it could show what the tech giant is capable of with a US team made from scratch.

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