Chinese tech giant Tencent has acquired Japanese game developer Visual Arts (Kabushikigaisha Bijuaru Atsu), a specialist in galgame (female anime character-based games) and visual novels. The Osaka-based developer announced the news on Chinese social platform Weibo on Thursday. 

Why it matters: With Tencent’s acquisition, Visual Arts has said it will be able to reach a wider audience and explore new growth opportunities. Tencent, meanwhile, will further its aim of becoming a global gaming powerhouse by acquiring another reputable developer after a series of such moves in recent weeks. 

Details: Visual Arts’ announcement on Thursday coincided with confirmation of the retirement of its founder Takahiro Baba, which was initially revealed last year. Baba has reportedly transferred his controlling stake to Tencent, with Genki Tenkumo announced as the new CEO. 

  • Founded in 1991, Visual Arts was at the forefront of the Japanese animation style galgame, a subgenre of dating games and visual novels focused on romance, typically marketed to heterosexual men. 
  • Visual Arts is the parent company of Key, which is known for creating acclaimed works such as Kanon, AIR, and Clannad.
  • Most Visual Arts games are characterized by a sentimental storyline. Kanon, AIR, and Clannad are all titles that were adapted into animations by Japanese studio Kyoto Animation, which has significant influence among ACG (anime, comics and games) groups.
  • Heaven Burns Red, the company’s 2022 turn-based role-playing game, once topped Japan’s iOS bestsellers list, according to Jiemian.
  • In the announcement of the Tencent deal, Takahiro Baba said the company was “in the best condition ever.” With the help of Tencent’s investment, Visual Arts hopes to create classics that spread across the world, he added.

Context: Tencent, China’s biggest gaming firm, has been expanding its international footprint in recent months, adding to its majority ownership of Riot Games with a series of major deals. 

  • On July 5, Tencent invested an unspecified amount in Lighthouse Games, which will support the UK game studio to build an as yet unnamed forthcoming title. Lighthouse Games is a recently-opened triple-A studio from Playground Games co-founder Gavin Raeburn.
  • Weeks later, on July 24, Tencent announced that it had become the majority shareholder in Techland, the Polish studio behind the popular game Dying Light. 

Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail: