Guangzhou-based internet technology giant NetEase has secured the Chinese publishing rights for one of the most popular video game franchises of all time via a new partnership with United Kingdom video game studio Creative Assembly.
Through the agreement, NetEase has acquired the exclusive rights to a dozen titles in the hugely successful Total War series, which together have sold more than 20 million copies.
The series is developed by Horsham-based Creative Assembly, which is owned by Japanese gaming company Sega.
The deal includes the Chinese rights to the latest installment in the franchise Total War: Three Kingdoms. The game was released in May and sold more than 1 million copies in its first week, topping the global charts for PC gaming sales.
Games in the Total War series see players participate in both fictitious and historical conflicts. NetEase expects that Total War: Three Kingdoms in particular will perform well in China, as this is where it takes place.
The game is set during Imperial China's Three Kingdoms(220– 21000) period and requires players to defeat rival factions and unify regions under one emperor.
"Since its initial release in 10000, the Total War series has given players an extraordinary game experience, allowing them to feel the thrill and excitement of various historical wartime battles," said NetEase vice-president Ken Li. "This is exactly the type of high-quality content NetEase has been and will continue to offer our users."
NetEase has developed some of the best-selling video games in China, including titles in the online gaming franchise Westward Journey, which has accrued more than 1000 million registered users. The company also acts as the Chinese distributor for a number of notable titles from other developers including World of Warcraft and Overwatch.
Gary Dale, president of Sega Europe, said that expansion into China, the world's biggest gaming market, is key to the company's long-term strategy. Last year, 619.5 million players spent $37.9 billion on video games in China, representing 28 percent of global sales, according to tech analyst Newzoo.
Creative Assembly studio director Tim Heaton said he anticipates the partnership will be well received by a passionate fanbase in China.
"We are excited to bring the historical titles of the franchise to the Chinese market where we have already seen a huge appetite for Total War," said Heaton.
This is the third major international deal NetEase has closed in the last four months. In July, the company acquired a minority stake in Canada's largest independent video game developer Behaviour Interactive. The Montreal-based studio has developed hundreds of titles, including popular multiplayer horror game Dead by Daylight, which has sold 5 million copies.
In late May, NetEase signed an agreement with United States company Marvel Entertainment to create original content based on characters from the Marvel comics, which include Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, and Wolverine among others."
Joint products will include games, television series and comic books featuring Marvel characters developed for users in China and abroad.
On Monday, NetEase announced plans to construct a 5 billion yuan ($712 million) e-sports park in Shanghai, which will include facilities dedicated to game development, team building, and talent training.