Chinese internet technology and video game company NetEase are reportedly looking to poach Sega’s Yakuza creator Toshihiro Nagoshi.
Bloomberg reports that NetEase is seeking to hire Nagoshi “people familiar with the matter said,” and would set up his own team to make new games. Nagoshi has allegedly not signed a final contract, and as such duties have not been finalized. Nagoshi had retired in January of this year as Sega’s Chief Creative Officer.
The report focused on the rivalry between NetEase and Chinese tech giant Tencent; calling NetEase’ action “the biggest coup in a contest between [them] to scoop up video game talent and assets in Japan.” They also report both companies are continuing to acquire more Japanese media for many years, hoping they will become global hits.
In turn both Chinese companies are seeking foreign companies to acquire. This is thanks to the Chinese government attempts to prevent gaming addiction in their youth (also known as gaming disorder).
Along with both companies cutting how much minors can spend in their games, Tencent lost almost $60 billion USD in stock value. This came after Chinese state media’s Economic Information Daily described online games as “spiritual opium.” Tencent had previously lost $20 billion USD in 2018 thanks to the Chinese Ministry of Education recommended less video game approvals.
While Bloomberg characterize Japanese business as typically having a “skeptical view to outside investment;” the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on funding along with Sony’s own cutbacks on supporting smaller studios has made for acquisitions find a “more receptive audience.” We previously looked into allegations of Sony censoring anime styled sexual content in video games on behalf of Tencent.
Bloomberg also highlight how Tencent’s Japanese acquisitions are a potential anchor for their goal of building “a Disney-style global media juggernaut that also spans video, music and books.” According to Bloomberg sources, they are “on the brink” of acquiring another studio.
In the west, we have seen Tencent set up US studio LightSpeed LA to make PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S AAA games. They had previously sought industry veterans for a blockbuster titles, including Konami developer Kenichiro Imaizumi, and Scott Warner (Planescape: Torment, Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, Halo 4).
We have also seen several games with more western appeal being developed by Tencent’s TiMi Studios; including Metal Slug Code: J, and Pokemon Unite. Contract disputes with Tencent lead to Amazon Games cancelling their The Lord of the Rings MMO.
Tencent’s portfolio includes ownership of Riot Games, Sumo Digital’s parent company, 80% of Grinding Gear Games, 40% in Epic Games, 29% in Funcom, 5% in Activision Blizzard, 5% in Ubisoft, 5% in Paradox Interactive, a “major investment” in PlatinumGames, a majority stake in Klei Entertainment, a major shareholder for Marvelous, a minority stake in Dontnod Entertainment, and others.
Acquisition of 1C Entertainment Group is also reportedly in progress.