Krafton Inc. is a South Korean video game holding company based in Seongnam, known for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. It was founded by Bluehole in November 2018 to better align itself and its subsidiaries under a unified brand.
|Founded||5 November 2018|
Following the success of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds which had led to both investment from Tencent Holdings and expansion and acquisition of studios, Bluehole opted to establish Krafton on 5 November 2018 to serve as a holding company for its video game properties. "Krafton" was selected based on the names of craft guilds of the Middle Ages. Kim Chang-han, the CEO of the Bluehole studio that developed PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, was named as CEO for Krafton.
The company announced its plans to file for an initial public offering in late 2021, filing its initial approval for listing on the Korea Stock Exchange in April 2021. The firm is estimated to have a net value of ₩30 trillion (US$27.2 billion).
Bluehole Studio was founded in Seoul in March 2007 by Chang Byung-gyu. Chang previously established Neowiz in 1997, along seven other co-founders, moved on to found search engine developer First Snow in 2005, and sold that venture in 2006. The company announced on 22 April 2015 that they had changed their name to simply Bluehole.
In August 2017, Chinese holding company Tencent announced that it had, following a rejected acquisition bid, invested an undisclosed amount of money into Bluehole. Bluehole initially denied that any investment had been made, but later stated that they were in talks with Tencent in multiple partnerships, including the acquisition of an equity stake in Bluehole by Tencent. Subsequently, Tencent acquired 1.5% of Bluehole for a total of ₩70 billion. Tencent reaffirmed their intents to fully acquire Bluehole in November 2017. Korean magazine The Korea Times suggested that an initial public offering, through which Bluehole would become a public company, was "out of question" due to Chang Byung-gyu's position as chairman of both Bluehole and the Fourth Industrial Revolution committee. At the time, 38 Communications, a company that tracks unlisted Korean stocks, valued the company at ₩5.2 trillion. Tencent plans to invest further ₩500 billion to acquire further 10% ownership, raising their total stake to 11.5% Through the acquisition, Tencent is set to become Bluehole's second-largest single shareholder, following Chang Byung-gyu, Bluehole's founder and chairman, who owns 20.6% of the company.
PUBG Studio (formerly Ginno Games, Bluehole Ginno and PUBG Corporation) is an internal studio of Bluehole's that developed one of the establishing battle royale games, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), based on user mods in other games by Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene and who was hired by PUBG to develop it into a full title. Originally, Ginno Games had been founded by Kim Chang-han to develop MMOs, but around 2014, he had been forced to lay off a third of his staff as their last product had not performed well. He sold Ginno Games to Bluehole on 27 January 2015, with the sale to close on 27 March that year. At the time, Ginno Games employed 60 people. Ginno Games changed their corporate name to Bluehole Ginno Games in May 2015. Shortly after Bluehole's acquisition in 2015, Chang-ha reached out to Greene to offer him support to build out his battle royale at Bluehole Ginno, which Greene accepted. PUBG was first released in early access in March 2017 as a highly popular game. Following the success of PUBG in 2017, Bluehole Ginno Games was renamed PUBG Corporation in September 2017.
A second office was established in Madison, Wisconsin in late 2017, with two further offices in Amsterdam and Japan opened later. On 12 March 2018, PUBG Corporation acquired New York-based studio MadGlory, which was renamed PUBG MadGlory.
Greene, having been based in the Seoul offices of PUBG Corp., left that division in March 2019 to lead a new subsidiary, PUBG Special Projects, at the Amsterdam office, later renamed to PUBG Productions. PUBG Productions announced their first game Prologue at The Game Awards 2019 in December. Unrelated to Battlegrounds, Prologue is called an exploration of gameplay and technology, and said "to give players unique and memorable experiences, each and every time they play".
PUBG Mobile announced a new Metro Royale mode with 1.1 beta update. The main highlight of the update was reported as two new maps, pre-configured weapons, introduction of Agile bandits, new weapon called Tikhar, new thermal sight/night vision equipment, new Tikka rifle and special black market place, along with some unique challenges like, special monsters, and more. On November 9, 2020, it was announced that Krafton will participate in G-Star 2020 to introduce their upcoming multiplayer online game Elyon through Krafton, an e-sports reality show where celebrities and streamers entered a special school that specialized in battlegrounds conduct episodes and talk related to PUBG Series 3. Celebrities (G)I-dle's Song Yuqi and Ailee and streamers Chyo Man and Choi Kwang-won appeared in the show.
In December 2020, Krafton announced the merger of PUBG Corp publishing and support business into Krafton, while the development side of the company continues to exist, renamed as PUBG Studio since it'll focus on the development of PUBG and its universe.. In 2021, Battlegrounds PUBG Mobile India Pre-registration has started.
Striking Distance StudiosEdit
In June 2019, a new studio called Striking Distance was opened in conjunction with Glen Schofield, the co-founder of Sledgehammer Games. Striking Distance, headed by Schofield as chief executive officer, is set to develop narrative-driven games based on PUBG. The studio's first game is The Callisto Protocol, a survival horror game set within the PUBG universe. It is set to be released in 2022.
RisingWings is a game development and publishing company formed by the merger of Pnix and Delusion. RisingWings is responsible for Archery King, Golf King and other mobile games.
L-Time Games was founded in June 2009. The company attracted a ₩2 billion and a ₩5 billion investment from Knet Investment Partners and IMM Investments, respectively. L-Time Games was acquired by and merged into Bluehole in January 2014.
Maui Games was a mobile game developer founded in 2013 by Woonghee Cho, previously head of business development for Neowiz. Bluehole Studio announced on 16 January 2015 that they were acquiring the company, which was completed in October that year. At Bluehole's January 2017 shareholders' meeting, it was decided that Maui Games would enter liquidation, which was effective immediately. Nine staff members of Maui Games, a fraction of that company's total employee count, were reemployed directly within Bluehole.
Pnix (formerly Bluehole Pnix) was a mobile game developer. The company was founded as Pnix Games in 2012. Bluehole announced that they had acquired Pnix Games, alongside Squall, on 22 April 2015. Pnix Games changed their corporate name to Bluehole Pnix in June 2016. Corporate name again changed to Pnix in 2018 after being a subsidiary of Krafton. In 2020 Pnix was merged with Delusion to form a RisingWings.
Squall (formerly Bluehole Squall) was a mobile game developer. The company was founded as Squall by Park Jin-seok, a founding member of Neowiz, in 2013. Bluehole announced that they had acquired Squall, alongside Pnix Games, on 22 April 2015. Squall changed their corporate name to Bluehole Squall in March 2016. Corporate name again changed to Squall in 2018 after being a subsidiary of Krafton. It was shut down by Krafton after internal conflicts in 2020.
Red Sahara StudioEdit
Red Sahara Studio was a mobile game developer headed by Lee Ji-hoon. On 12 March 2018, Bluehole completed the acquisition of the studio in a stock swap deal. Red Sahara was developing a mobile game based on TERA.
Delusion Studio was founded in April 2011 and is headed by Kang Moon-chul. On 22 June 2018, Bluehole announced the acquisition of the studio. Delusion developed mobile games such as Guardian Stone, Jellipo, House of Mice and, most notably, Castle Burn. In 2020 Delusion was merged with Pnix to form RisingWings.
En Masse EntertainmentEdit
En Masse Entertainment was Krafton's North American publishing arm. The company was established as Bluehole Interactive in June 2008. On 26 February 2010, the company announced that it had changed its corporate name to En Masse Entertainment.
In September 2020, En Masse Entertainment announced that it would be shutting down its offices after 10 years of service in the gaming industry, where it was decided that Bluehole Studio would be publishing TERA's Console version globally - taking over a self-publishing role, in place of En Masse Entertainment, whereas the PC version would be published by Gameforge.
Dreamotion Inc. was founded in 2016. They are the developer and publisher of GunStrider: Tap Strike, Road to Valor: World War II and Ronin: The Last Samurai game titles. This Korean game development Company was acquired by Krafton Inc on 13 May 2021.
- Young-won, Kim (5 November 2018). "Bluehole launches new brand for its subunits". The Investor.
- Kim, Sohee (18 January 2021). "Coding Prodigy Behind Hit Game PUBG Eyes IPO Worth Billions". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
- Lee, Joyce (8 April 2021). "Korean video game firm Krafton applies for IPO, seen worth billions of dollars". Reuters. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
- Sung-won, Yoon (10 September 2017). "Past failures and endurance can make success". The Korea Times.
- Sung-won, Yoon (21 May 2017). "'Serial entrepreneurs' pioneer IT industry". The Korea Times.
- 박소연, 기자 (22 April 2015). "Beulluhol, pinigseugeimjeu·seukol insulo mobailsijang jeongyeog jinchul" 블루홀, 피닉스게임즈·스콜 인수로 모바일시장 전격 진출 [Bluehole enters into mobile market with acquisition of Phoenix Games]. ZDNet Korea (in Korean).
- McAloon, Alissa (14 August 2017). "Report: Tencent invests in Battlegrounds dev Bluehole". Gamasutra.
- Freeman, Will (15 August 2017). "Bluehole squashes Tencent investment rumour". GamesIndustry.biz.
- Sinclair, Brendan (28 September 2017). "Bluehole confirms Tencent talks". GamesIndustry.biz.
- Ji-young, Sohn (30 April 2018). "Tencent eyes investment in Bluehole, maker of hit video game 'Battlegrounds'". The Korea Herald.
- Dring, Christopher (9 November 2017). "Tencent still eyes acquisition of PUBG developer Bluehole - report". GamesIndustry.biz.
- MCV Staff (9 November 2017). "Tencent could yet acquire Bluehole". MCV.
- Donnelly, Joe (9 November 2017). "Tencent seemingly still pursuing Bluehole takeover bid". PC Gamer.
- Nakamura, Yuji; Kim, Sam (27 September 2017). "One Man's Journey From Welfare to World's Hottest Video Game". Bloomberg L.P.
- Khan, Asif (27 September 2017). "PUBG Developer Bluehole, Inc. Valued at Over $4 Billion". Shacknews.
- Kerr, Chris (30 April 2018). "Report: Tencent could sink $470M into Battlegrounds dev Bluehole". Gamasutra.
- Singletary, Charles Jr. (4 May 2018). "Tencent May Invest $470 Million To Become PUBG Dev's Second Largest Shareholder". Shacknews.
- 이도원, 기자 (27 January 2015). "Beulluholseutyudio, 'debillieon' jinogeimjeu insu chujin" 블루홀스튜디오, '데빌리언' 지노게임즈 인수 추진 [Bluehole Studio to acquire 'Devilian' Ginno Games]. ZDNet Korea (in Korean).
- 이, 대호 (27 January 2015). "Beulluhol, jinogeimjeu insu…haegsim injae hwagbo" 블루홀, 지노게임즈 인수…핵심 인재 확보 [Bluehole acquires Ginno Games ... Gain core talent]. Digital Daily (in Korean).
- O'Connor, Alice (29 September 2017). "Playerunknown's Battlegrounds studio becomes PUBG Corp. [updated]". Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
- Hall, Charlie (29 September 2017). "PUBG team will spin off as subsidiary company". Polygon.
- Batchelor, James (23 January 2018). "PUBG Corp. to kick off 2018 expansion with new Amsterdam office". GamesIndustry.biz.
- Batchelor, James (12 March 2018). "PUBG Corp acquires MadGlory to enable community developer tools". GamesIndustry.biz.
- Batchelor, James (13 March 2019). "Brendan Greene leading new Special Projects division at PUBG Corp". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
- Goslin, Austen (12 December 2019). "PlayerUnknown's next project, Prologue, announced". Polygon. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
- "PUBG Mobile 1.1 beta brings new 'Metro Royale' mode". xda developers. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
- Nam Jeong-seok (9 November 2020). 크래프톤, '지스타 2020'에 '승부겜성'이란 메시지로 참가 [Krafton participates in 'G-Star 2020' with the message of 'Game Match']. Sports Chosun.
- "How to pre-register on Google Play Store". Gotu World.
- Jones, Ali (26 June 2019). "Former COD exec joins PUBG developer to make narrative games "beyond battle royale"". PCGamesN.
- Takahashi, Dean (10 December 2020). "The Callisto Protocol comes from Striking Distance Studios in 2022". VentureBeat. Retrieved 12 December 2020.
- 김, 남규 (15 September 2011). "Sinsaeng gaebalsa eltaimgeimjeu, 25eog-won tuja yuchi" 신생 개발사 엘타임게임즈, 25억원 투자 유치 [New development company L-Time Games attracts 2.5 billion won investment]. DongA (in Korean).
- 전하나, 기자 (15 September 2011). "Sinsaeng gaebalsa eltaimgeimjeu, 25eog-won tuja yuchi" 신생 개발사 엘타임게임즈, 25억원 투자 유치 [New development company L-Time Games attracts 2.5 billion won investment]. ZDNet Korea (in Korean).
- 박소연, 기자 (16 October 2015). "Beulluhol, mobail geim gaebalsa 'mau-igeimjeu' insu" 블루홀, 모바일 게임 개발사 '마우이게임즈' 인수 [Bluehole acquires Maui Games, a mobile game developer]. ZDNet Korea (in Korean).
- Williams, Mike (29 September 2017). "PUBG Corp Established To Handle All Things PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds". USgamer.
- 임일곤, 기자 (20 January 2017). "'Goppi joeneun' beulluhol…gyeyeolsa mau-i 1nyeonman-e cheongsan'" 고삐 죄는' 블루홀…계열사 마우이 1년만에 청산 ['The Redemption' Bluehole ... Affiliate Maui liquidated in one year]. Business Watch (in Korean).
- 정재훈, 기자 (22 April 2015). "[Nyuseu] Beulluholseutyudio, 'beulluhol'lo samyeong byeongyeong...mobailgeimsa 2gos insu" [뉴스] 블루홀스튜디오, '블루홀'로 사명 변경...모바일게임사 2곳 인수 [[News] Bluehole Studio changed its name to 'Bluehole' ... Acquired two mobile game companies]. Inven (in Korean).
- 이대호, 기자 (22 April 2015). "Beulluhol, mobailgeim sa-eob bongyeoghwa...gaebalsa 2gos insu" 블루홀, 모바일게임 사업 본격화...개발사 2곳 인수 [Bluehole, mobile game business in full swing ... Acquired two development companies]. Digital Daily (in Korean).
- 남혁우, 기자 (12 March 2018). "Beulluhol, 'ledeusahalaseutyudio' insu wanlyo" 블루홀, '레드사하라스튜디오' 인수 완료 [Bluehole acquires 'Red Sahara Studio']. ZDNet Korea (in Korean).
- 김수진, 기자 (12 March 2018). "Beulluhol, 'bulmyeol-ui jeonsa' gaebalsa ledeusahalaseutyudio insu" 블루홀, '불멸의 전사' 개발사 레드사하라스튜디오 인수 [Bluehole acquires Red Sahara Studio, developer of 'Immortal Warrior']. Inven (in Korean).
- 허재민, 기자 (25 September 2017). "[Inteobyu] Mobail seutakeulaepeuteu? RTSui haegsim-eul damda, 'kaeseulbeon' inteobyu" [인터뷰] 모바일 스타크래프트? RTS의 핵심을 담다, '캐슬번' 인터뷰 [[Interview] Mobile StarCraft? Interview with 'Castle Burn', the heart of RTS]. Inven (in Korean).
- McAloon, Alissa (22 June 2018). "Bluehole to acquire mobile dev Delusion Studio". Gamasutra.
- Valentine, Rebekah (22 June 2018). "Bluehole to acquire Delusion Studio". GamesIndustry.biz.
- IGN Staff (25 February 2010). "En Masse Entertainment Debuts as New MMO Game Company". IGN.
- Kerr, Chris. "Tera publisher En Masse is shutting down after over a decade". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
- "TERA Announces Its Newest Global Publisher". Sarumonin.com. 31 August 2020. Retrieved 27 September 2020.
- "Gameforge Takes Over Publishing Rights for TERA in the Americas". 15 October 2020.
- "Dreamotion Inc. - Android developer info on AppBrain". App Brain. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
- "GunStrider: Tap Strike - Apps of Google Play". Google Play Store. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
- "Road to Valor: World War II - Apps on Google Play". Google Play Store. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
- "Ronin: The Last Samurai - Apps on Google Play". Google Play Store. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
- "PUBG owner Krafton has acquired mobile studio Dreamotion". Gamasutra. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
- Wasif, Ahmed (13 May 2021). "Krafton acquires mobile game development company Dreamotion". Dot Esports. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
- "Krafton Inc. acquired game developer 'Dreamotion Inc.'". The Indian Esports. 15 May 2021. Retrieved 15 May 2021.