Tencent subsidiary TiMi opens Seattle-area game studio led by Halo, Battlefield vets

Tel’Annas, one of the playable heroes in TiMi Studios’ Arena of Valor. (Timi/Tencent image)

One of the largest mobile game developers in China has opened an office in the Seattle area.

Tencent subsidary TiMi Studio Group announced Thursday that it’s founded a satellite studio in Bellevue, Wash., run by game industry veterans Scott Warner (lead designer on Halo 4 and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames) and Rosi Zagorcheva (senior director on Star Wars: Battlefront, Battlefield 4, and Battlefield V). GamesBeat first reported the news.

The new studio, TiMi Seattle, has a stated goal to “make a new AAA-caliber, live service FPS game” (i.e. Call of Duty, CounterStrike) for the PC and console market. Its team has already expanded to 25 employees, and is actively recruiting more from both the Seattle and Los Angeles area.

In the GamesBeat article, Warner describes the opportunity offered by TiMi as “the capacity to take risks with a blockbuster budget and a new intellectual property.”

We’re ready to rock Seattle (and LA)! ????Console and ????PC players – be ready to join us on our new and exciting journey to make a new AAA-caliber, live service FPS game! Read more about our new team on @gamesbeat here: https://t.co/lUl08Fdrzl

— TiMi Studio Group (@timistudios) June 23, 2021

TiMi’s Seattle studio is its second location in North America, following an office in Los Angeles that it opened in May 2020.

While many Americans may not have heard of it, TiMi Studios is one of the most successful game developers in China. TiMi, founded in 2008 in Shenzhen as Jade Studio, is a subsidiary of the well-known Chinese conglomerate Tencent.

TiMi’s lead title is arguably Honor of Kings, a player-vs.-player MOBA for mobile devices, which announced in November that it had surpassed 100 million daily active users. There are apparently more people playing Honor of Kings on any given day this year than there are people living in Vietnam.

Outside of China, a revised edition of HoK is published by Tencent Games for iOS and Android as Arena of Valor. Notably, it features several crossover characters from DC Comics, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash.

Other hits from TiMi include Call of Duty: Mobile, Pokémon UNITE, and Speed Drifters. Reportedly, this all added up to TiMi earning $10 billion in revenue in 2020. By way of comparison, Activision Blizzard, the U.S. publisher behind the core Call of Duty franchise, which reliably fields at least one of the best-selling games in any given year, posted revenues of $8.09 billion for 2020.

As such, TiMi’s North American office clearly has the financial backing on tap to make whatever sort of game it likes, which in turn could pose a challenge to big live-service games like CoD, Fortnite, and the forthcoming Halo Infinite. Since this is an explicitly AAA game, however, it’s safe to assume that TiMi Seattle won’t have anything to show in public for at least the next couple of years. The video game industry uses “AAA,” a term it borrowed from baseball, to indicate big-budget games made with large teams, which usually translates to a years-long development schedule.

TiMi also announced in April that it had entered into a strategic partnership with Xbox Game Studios, although the details behind that deal remain unclear.

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Games Seattle Tencent Timi studios