Frank Zhu, former head of Chinese animation studio Pearl Studio, has joined Tencent-owned Riot Games as MD for Riot Games’ China Entertainment. He reports to Shauna Spenley, global president of entertainment.
Riot Games is the developer and publisher responsible for global hit PC games “League of Legends” and “Valorant.” It is also behind the upcoming animated series “Arcane.”
The newly-formed entertainment division is intended to expand Riot’s existing IP through film, television, music, consumer products, and live experiences.
Zhu will be expected to work with Spenley and Leo Lin, VP and head of Riot Games China, to help define the overall strategy and roadmap for the new division in China. He will also be expected to assemble a roster of top-tier local talent for Riot to create content that resonates with players and Chinese audiences.
Zhu was CEO of CMC-owned Pearl Studio (formerly Oriental Dreamworks) since 2016 and in 2020 was executive producer for the animated feature “Over the Moon,” a co-production with Netflix.
Prior to joining Pearl, Zhu co-founded children’s entertainment and media company, Taomee (“Mole’s World,” “Seer”) and helped establish Disney China’s toy licensing business in that market.
Riot Games is wholly owned by China’s social media, games and video conglomerate Tencent Holdings. Under the Donald Trump administration the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States opened talks with Tencent with a possible view to forcing the giant Chinese firm to divest Riot and its stake in another developer Epic Games.
The CFIUS was understood to have asked Tencent to prove that its handling of U.S. citizens’ personal data is not a national security risk.
China is now cracking down strongly on its own tech companies, and gaming firms in particular. Its concerns range from handling of Chinese citizens’ personal data by firms with overseas operations, through to limiting the number of hours teens and younger gamers can play per week.