Bungie has formed a partnership with NetEase following a $100 million investment by the Chinese online gaming company, the studio announced today.
“We’re excited to announce that we’ve entered into a new partnership with NetEase to help us explore new directions,” Bungie said in a blog post. “With their industry expertise, they’ll empower us to build new worlds and invite players, new and old, to join us there.”
NetEase’s investment buys them a minority stake in the Destiny studio, as well as a seat on its board of directors. Neither party has suggested that a specific game or IP yet exists for their partnership to launch, but finding and developing one seems to be the plan. NetEase’s ability to help Bungie access the huge Chinese market – much as they already do with Blizzard – will surely have appealed.
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Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz, Bungie CEO Pete Parsons says “Really what this partnership is about is bringing the expertise NetEase has, sharing ideas and allowing us to incubate new ideas. There’s no explicit deal [to publish our games in China]. It’s more that they share our passion for games, our passion for building worlds that inspire friendships and building communities.”
Bungie’s blog says “our long-term goal is to become an entertainment company that sustains many worlds simultaneously – Destiny and new worlds to come.” In a press release, Parsons continues that “NetEase’s industry expertise and international reach” will help them accelerate “our global vision.”
Bungie saysthe partnership will not have an impact on the studio’s commitment to supporting Destiny 2, or indeed on the future of the series. “Destiny is an experience that will grow for many years to come,” says their blog. “We have exciting plans for the future of the Destiny franchise.”
However, this does indicate that Bungie is planning new IP alongside Destiny, as studio co-founderJason Jones hinted to the BBC last October. Kotaku’s Jason Schreier – noted for his contacts at the studio – says “Bungie has been working on new IP for a while,” and even speculates that Activision might one day buy the Destiny IP, hand it off to its internal studios “Call of Duty-style,” and cut Bungie loose.
For NetEase’s part, its CEO and director William Ding says “we have been big fans of the worlds Bungie has created, and are drawn to Bungie’s passion and creativity in online games development… we are excited to partner with Bungie as they transform from a single franchise development team into a global, multi-franchise entertainment studio.”
Bungie’s co-founder and chief creative officer Jason Jones – one of the few remaining links with its Halo days, at least at senior level – will lead this process, beginning “the creation of new worlds.” Parsons says Bungie has been “almost entirely focused on building Destiny” until now, which is somewhat at odds with Schreier’s claim that they have been working on new IP for some time already.