A week or two ago, we covered the especially-amusing-to-MMO-fans news that Sony was gunning to buy up Leyou, the Chinese holding company that both owns the majority of Warframe’s Digital Extremes and is working on multiple MMOs itself, including a new Lord of the Rings MMO, Transformers Online, and Civilization Online. It’s amusing to us, of course, because Sony already owned an MMO company and sold it off going on six years ago now.
Anyhow, we didn’t follow up on that story, so we’re doing it now as apparently Tencent entered the fray and then took it over entirely. The Chinese megacorp was mentioned in our original piece as one of the owners of iDreamSky, which was also considering a bid, but subsequent releases from Leyou made it clear Tencent was negotiating in its own right through its Hong Kong subsidiary Tencent Mobility and now has exclusive negotiation rights for the next few months while trading for Leyou is on hold.
According to CNBC, “Leyou and its controlling shareholder, Charles Yuk, have entered into an exclusivity agreement with Tencent Mobility Limited, a Tencent subsidiary” with the goal of taking it private. CNBC also quotes an analyst from Ampere Analysis in saying that Warframe “suffered in 2019 due to a slow update cycle and new competition” and that this might be why Leyou is hunting for a buyer. In fact, Warframe reached 50M players in 2019, but those heady press releases about the game breaking its concurrency records with every patch did dry up after 2018.