Billionaire Chinese video game CEO and Netflix producer Lin Qi died on Christmas Day in Shanghai, China in the middle of an investigation into whether he had been poisoned while hospitalized the week before. He was only 39.
The Yoozoo Games CEO started producing an English-language adaptation of novelist Liu Cixin’s “Three-Body Problem” trilogy for Netflix in September alongside “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in September.
CEO of Yoozoo affiliate The Three-Body Problem Universe, Xu Yao, is suspected of poisoning Lin and has been arrested as investigations continue.
The following statement from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau appeared in The Hollywood Reporter: “At 5 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2020, the police received a call from a hospital regarding a patient surnamed Lin. During the patient’s treatment, the hospital said it had determined that the patient had been poisoned. Following the call, the police began an investigation. According to investigations on site and further interviews, the police found that a suspect surnamed Xu, who is a coworker of the victim Lin, was the most likely the perpetrator. The suspect Xu has been arrested and investigations continue.”
Exact cause of death unconfirmed
Variety later reported that local accounts of Lin’s poisoning with aged pu’er tea are now in question and may not be the case.
A doctor known only by the surname Zhou said that based on Lin’s symptoms, a neurotoxin like the tetrodotoxin found in pufferfish might have killed him. Multiple other news outlets said a cocktail of different poisons may have caused his death.
“The board of directors gives its highest respects to the chairman for his contributions to the firm,” a statement by Yoozoo said, adding that company executives and employees felt “deep grief and mourning, and send their sincere condolences to the family.”
The staff of Yoozoo wrote a more personal message on social media including a quote from “The Three-Body Problem”: “You saw through what was imperfect but still believed in beauty; encountered unkindness but still believed in kindness. Together, we will continue to be kind, continue to believe in beauty, and continue to fight against all that is unkind.”
Company to continue operations
Yoozoo developed the smartphone and PC game “Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming,” and was the ninth-highest grossing video game company in China.
Lin was essential to helping Yoozoo transition from online games to mobile ones, and had just achieved a net worth of $1 billion.
The company said it would continue operations and would seek to fill the opening left by Lin on its board of directors as soon as possible, Variety reported.
Plans were for The Three-Body Problem Universe to spend $183 billion to make six films from the book series.