NetEase Buys Minority Stake In Bungie
NetEase has purchased a minority stake in Bungie, giving the Chinese tech company a seat on Bungie's board of directors and a potential inroad for the developer to bring its games to China.
According to a report from GamesIndustry.biz, NetEase invested more than $100 million in the studio. Bungie posted about the deal on its own site, saying in part that the partnership will "...help us explore new directions. With their industry expertise, they’ll empower us to build new worlds and invite players, new and old, to join us there. They’ll help us support separate teams inside Bungie to bring our newest ambitions to life."
The studio also addressed concerns that Destiny players might have. "We’ll continue to work with our partners at Activision to foster this global community and turn new players from all over the world into Guardians," the statement continued. "Our commitment to that world is not diminished by this announcement."
NetEase is a titan in its native China, operating a host of its own mobile and PC games, as well as managing the licenses of several Western games, including Blizzard's Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and StarCraft; and Mojang's Minecraft. What about Destiny 2? NetEase Games GM for strategic investments and partnerships Simon Zhu told GamesIndustry.biz that bringing the MMO shooter to China wasn't their call. "As far as Destiny 2 is concerned, while we are huge fans of the title and would love to bring it to China, that decision is ultimately Bungie and Activision-Blizzard's."
“Bungie is a phenomenal, independent developer and we have a strong relationship with them, rooted in our long-term partnership on the Destiny franchise," Activision said in a statement. "This deal does not impact Activision's partnership with Bungie or our plans for the future of the Destiny franchise."
China is a massive market, and getting a game in front of players there is a potentially lucrative proposition. It will be interesting to see what Bungie gets out of the deal, beyond access to that country. NetEase's own IP lean toward esoteric MMORPGs and free-to-play mobile games that haven't exactly set the Western world's imaginations on fire. Investing in other properties and diversifying its line-up is also likely a good decision for Bungie in the long term, so long as the studio follows through on its promise to maintain focus and development efforts on Destiny in the immediate term.