Gamers sound off on NetEase investment in Bungie
Another Chinese gaming giant is snatching up shares from a troubled Western game developer.
Just two months after Tencent bought a 5% stake in Assassin’s Creed developer Ubisoft to save it from a hostile takeover, NetEase is now pumping US$100 million into Halo’s creator Bungie.
Bungie said it wants to be “a global, multi-franchise entertainment company”, and the investment from NetEase will allow it to develop a new line of games apart from its Destiny franchise.
In return, NetEase gets a minority stake in the Washington-based studio and a seat on its board.
The gaming business of Beijing-based NetEase is the world’s sixth most profitable, ahead of EA and Nintendo. It publishes Blizzard titles in China and developed mobile hits such as Knives Out and Onmyoji.
Bungie has faced a lot of flak in recent years over its cooperation with publisher Activision in the Destiny series. Disappointed fans accused the companies of being greedy with in-game purchases, while others said the game experience simply wasn’t up to standard.
Bungie said its partnership with NetEase won’t affect its commitment to Destiny or its deal with Activision. But following the announcement, CEO Pete Parsons told the Wall Street Journal that the company wants to soon publish titles on its own rather than relying on outside publishers.
The news stirred up contrasting reactions from Western fans. While some welcomed it as an indication that Bungie might break loose from Activision’s grip and shift its focus away from Destiny, others are worried that NetEase will further push Bungie into making games that will involve a lot of in-game purchases -- a common feature in Asian games.
While Halo has been a widely successful game in the West, the Halo-mania never arrived in China, where consoles had been banned for 15 years until 2015.
Many gamers are also wondering if NetEase could bring Bungie’s games to mobile. With its massive base of smartphone users, China has been driving the development of smartphone games in recent years.
Bungie said the partnership will allow it to learn from NetEase’s experience with smartphone games. But it also added that the partnership doesn’t necessarily mean NetEase will be publishing Bungie games in China.