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 July 2021, filing its initial approval for listing on the Korea Stock Exchange in April 2021. The firm plans to raise ₩5.6 trillion (US$5 billion) at a market valuation 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".
Krafton full merged PUBG Corporation into their internal studio system in December 2020, rebranding the team to PUBG Studios.
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.
Striking Distance Studios
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.
Dreamotion Inc. is a South Korean video game development and publishing company founded in July 2016. They are the developer and publisher of GunStrider: Tap Strike, Road to Valor: World War II and Ronin: The Last Samurai game titles. Dreamotion was acquired by Krafton on 13 May 2021.
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 Studio
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 Entertainment
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.
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