Chinese publisher NetEase is poised to expand its mobile games business in the United States this year following last year’s soaring earnings from mobile games. The company’s core business, online gaming, reached USD 4 billion in revenue in 2016, up 61 percent year-on-year, according to the group’s full-year report. Last October, App Annie ranked the company as the world’s top mobile game seller by downloads.
“Reflecting on our own growth over the years, we successfully launched a number of blockbuster mobile games such as Fantasy Westward Journey, which was the best-selling mobile game worldwide on iOS in 2016,” said Ethan Wang, vice-president of NetEase, Inc. “A few days ago Onmyoji ranked No.1 free game in Japan’s App Store, only one day after its Japan launch,” he added.
The “superiority” of the company provided the foundation for global expansion, especially in the US, according to the confidence Riten Huang, general manager of NetEase North America and head of global publication at NetEase Games.
“In Western countries, the 3-D MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) market is big in the PC and console category, but it’s not strong in the mobile category,” said Huang. “The success of Fantasy Westward Journey gives us the confidence to launch the game in Western countries because it shows the ability of NetEase to operate a game for a long time,” he said.
The game’s PC title has operated for more than 10 years and the mobile version achieved higher revenue after it launched more than a year ago, he added. Another popular game, Omnyoji, a 3-D ARPG (action role-playing games) game, indicated that the company could thrive not only in traditional Chinese culture, but also with foreign cultures and gain new users, Huang said.
“The point is to leverage the culture to connect with people around the world and build a strong social community,” he added.
In previous years, the company has localized several mobile Chinese games in the US, including action game Speedy Ninja, action role play game Eternal Arena, and MMO (massive-multiplayer online) game Tome of the Sun.
In January, the company launched Immortal Conquest, a free-to-play strategy war game. Based on Western culture and themes, the game is not only a good fit for the market but also introduces a new game play type to improve a player’s experience, Huang said. “Previously, people built up troops and heroes to improve numbers, but this game is different. You need to communicate with friends. We saw some players betray their original teams and join other teams,” he said.