Everyone’s acquiring everyone right now but I didn’t see this coming. Epic Games, the company behind the Unreal Engine and the Unreal series, Fortnite, and Gears of War, bought Bandcamp and people are wondering why. Bandcamp announced in an email to users that things would stay the same on their end but as CDM said, skepticism is a fair reaction:
First, it’s always a safe bet to be skeptical of acquisitions, and certainly not to get swept up in “what-if” synergy scenarios. The fantasies of how companies fit together do invariably meet up with real-world realities of integrating technologies, teams, and different visions. This could have pretty big implications in this case, in how gaming and music might fit together. Of course, that, too, we’ve heard before – come ye and I’ll sing ye a tale of Harmonix and Viacom, aye they ne’er quite worked out. And yes, Epic bought Harmonix – as history repeats itself, and we still don’t know what will come of that, either.
CDM looked into what the acquisition could mean for both parties and the biggest red flag is Tencent, the Chinese megacorp that owns 40% of Epic Games. Aside from the fact that Tencent also owns stakes in a lot of other video games/entertainment companies (they own about 9% of Spotify, making it Spotify’s third-largest shareholder) and has a fairly stacked controversies section on Wikipedia, Bandcamp is banned in China. And Tencent have a history with censorship. This is a very tangled web and I pray Bandcamp doesn’t turn to dust or forego its social efforts.