Elden Ring is Tencent’s next target for mobile loot boxes and microtransactions

Enlarge / Artist’s rendition of two Elden Ring teams, The Medium and The Message, battling it out in a colosseum constructed from micro-transactions and overseen by mystical creatures known as Whales.

Bandai Namco

To its fans, Elden Ring is a noble struggle, where the effort you put into memorizing boss patterns, improving your build, and fine-tuning your reactions offsets your near-constant deaths in a grim, unforgiving landscape.

To Tencent, it seems, Elden Ring is an opportunity to create another free-to-play game, one flush with in-app purchases and booster packs that may not mesh at all with the game’s nature or setting.

Reuters reports that Tencent, the Chinese firm that owns a 16 percent stake in Elden Ring and Dark Souls-maker FromSoftware, has a mobile version of Elden Ring in development. Progress “has been slow,” according to three people familiar with the project cited by Reuters. But it will be free-to-play, will have in-app purchases, and may resemble miHoYo’s Genshin Impact in its play/pay flow, according to Reuters.

Tencent is the company behind WeChat, the largest tech firm in China and the largest company in the world by gaming revenue. The firm previously hit the slow-drip jackpot with mobile game versions of titles like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (or PUBG), League of Legends: Wild Rift, and Call of Duty but has seen far less success in recent years.

A game based on the Nier franchise stalled out in December 2023 after reportedly failing to find a monetization model that would offset development costs, a Nier license from Square Enix, and app store fees. Tencent similarly nixed a mobile Apex Legends title last year.

Despite these challenges, and an uncertain approval system in China, Tencent CEO Pony Ma has recently said its game division is “resting on its laurels” and needs new hits. Tencent divisions are reportedly working on mobile versions of Need for Speed and Assassin’s Creed. Crafting a licensed version of Elden Ring that is profitable may be the kind of boss-run challenge Ma is looking for. Fans of the original title, meanwhile, may get to test their poise by avoiding any recognition of a very different version.

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