Microsoft In Talks to Extend 'Battlegrounds' Exclusive Deal

The creator of the hit video game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is in talks with Microsoft Corp. about extending their agreement to publish the game exclusively on Xbox, according to people familiar with the matter.

South Korea’s Bluehole Inc. has agreed to produce the game for Microsoft first by the end of the year and is likely to give the company a longer period as the solo console, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. Games are typically offered exclusively for about three months to encourage people to buy a particular console, so Xbox may have the game to itself until the middle of next year or longer.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has become this year’s surprise hit of the game industry, selling 13 million copies and shattering records for personal-computer game sales. Giants such as Sony Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. are clamoring for rights to put the title on consoles and mobile phones.

Microsoft declined to comment on whether it was in talks to extend the exclusivity. “Right now, the team is solely focused on bringing the best game possible to Xbox One and PC. We have nothing further to announce at this time,” a spokesperson said.

The game was created by Irishman Brendan Greene, aka PlayerUnknown, and Bluehole, a little-known developer in Korea. Bluehole’s valuation has surged to 5.2 trillion won ($4.5 billion), up five-fold in just three months, according to 38 Communications, which keeps track of unlisted Korean stocks. Its founder Chang Byung-gyu owns 20 percent of the company, nearly making him a billionaire – at least on paper.

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Chang has said his company is in talks with all of the major console companies about bringing PUBG to a broader audience. While Microsoft will launch the title exclusively on Xbox later this year, Bluehole is in talks with Sony about introducing a version for the PlayStation after that.

“PUBG has arguably risen to be Xbox’s most important exclusive for the end of 2017,” said Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at IHS Markit.

— With assistance by Dina Bass

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