Tencent takes minority stake in French casual games maker Voodoo

Tencent just added another portfolio member to its expanding global gaming empire, this time, to up its game in mobile casual plays.

Voodoo, the French company behind a slew of popular casual games, announced Monday that Tencent has become a minority shareholder in its business valued at $1.4 billion.

The company did not disclose the funding amount, but Tencent has made offerings of all sizes, from big checks that bought it full control in studios like Riot Games to smaller deals in return for minority stakes in the likes of Epic Games.

Bloomberg reported in May that the French games company began to look for a potential stakeholder in a deal that could value the company at more than $1.6 billion. Goldman Sachs became Voodoo’s minority shareholder in 2018, and sources from Reuters put the funding amount at about $200 million.

The seven-year-old startup was co-founded by its current CEO Alexandre Yazdi and Laurent Ritter. Yazdi will remain the largest shareholder and together with the management will retain the control of the group, according to the company.

Voodoo has emerged as one of the world’s biggest publishers of ‘hyper-casual games’, titles that are built quickly, serve a single purpose and don’t obsess over the ‘glitz and glam’ of design, as we wrote before.

The company claims 3.7 billion downloads across its family of games like Helix Jump. Its reservoir of mini games is an ideal match to Tencent’s WeChat messenger, which itself runs a platform for light and simple games.

The other benefit of teaming up with Voodoo, as games analyst Daniel Ahmad pointed out, is that its ad-driven model means it has fewer regulatory hoops to jump in China compared to publishers monetizing through in-app purchases, which require a government license.

For Voodoo, the deal is clearly a gateway into the massive Asian gaming market. “We are thrilled to welcome Tencent, a company we admire for its leading game and consumer mobile apps. We look forward to developing new products together for the Asian market, and publishing games created by the many talented games studios in the region,” Yazdi said in a statement.

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