About this Blog

The purpose of this blog is for my personal use. It serves as my personal diary as I investigate Chinese internet/gaming companies for investment purpose. If you have any comments or disagreement, please give me feedbacks.

Monday, March 19, 2007

NTES – NCTY – TX2 – WOW – Guilds War – Shootout (Part 3)

3 Games Shootout (Part 3) – Conclusion on TX2

As discussed previously, TX2 is a ground-breaking game. A game that will appeal to many Chinese players. But it does have risks.

It will be a game dominated by gangs (tribes, if you don’t like the word “gang”).

First, in the real world, if you are defeated, you probably just join the victor. People tend to work for the side to obtain protection. But in the game world, if a gang is defeated, the players in the gang probably leave the game all together.

There will be a lot of emotion. The victor will crow about their accomplishment while the loser will feel they being betrayed, deceived, or/and disrespected, etc. During closed beta, the gang that won the battle frequent times were not the stronger one. The way the castle warfare is designed, it allow gangs with more cohesion and more strategic acumen a good chance over a gang with more members.

It can be hard for the losing side to swallow its pride especially if they were the more powerful gang. And Chinese don’t like to lose face.

It is important for the TX2 game designer to allow the disgruntled players to switch to another servers without losing too much credits. TX2 will be a high turn-over game. It is important for TX2 to make sure the turn over is between the servers and not from TX2 to its competitor games.

Second, as the gang start to occupy more castles and gets too powerful, it is going to make it uncomfortable for rival gang to compete and for the non-gang member. It is human nature that some gang member will start to pick on non-gang members. How is Netease going to handle this is going to be a challenge.

In the end, I think TX2 will be a very successful game, but not a true block-buster. I think its PCU at its absolute peak will be more like 300k rather than 1.5M. In summary, it will suffer from the following problems:

1. High entry requirement. Only players with recently purchased computers will be able to play. Castle Warfare will be the most pressing on the player’s computer. There is only a sub section of Chinese player who have the powerful computer to play this game.

2. For a World Domination game like this, I think a lot of players will check it out. But I think a lot of them will leave if the player or the player’s gang doesn’t do well.

But of course, it is extremely hard to predict how Netease’s game will evolve in 3 years.

Finally, TX2 says a lot about Netease the company. It is telling me that Netease is really a company that run like Apple rather than Microsoft.

Rather than going the easy route of developing a WOW-clone, it went about the more risk route of developing a completely new type of game.

It is a company that ran by technocrats. Its 20s/30s something chief game designers were continually been raided by its competitors. Yet, the next guy in line raised through the rank and there is hardly a hiccup.

Every game they make, they want to push the envelope of China’s (or even the world’s) game technology. They are innovative and they are successful, but why do I get the feeling of them just waiting to get wiped out by a Microsoft-like company.

If the young Bill Gates is in charge of Netease now, in addition to thinking about the next great game-playing features, he would be thinking about how to kill off his competitors and monopolize the industry. Instead of the 5 or 6 new games in the pipeline, Bill Gates would have 20 games in the pipeline. He would probably brought out a 3d engine foreign companies and a domestic free-to-play game design company.

I am happy that Netease is emphasize quality. But rather than spending 100M every 6 months buying shares back, why can’t it spend it on more hiring, making more titles and purchasing more companies.

I had read an article where the chief designer of TX2 talked about why he doesn’t emphasize quests. The point he tried to make is that since each player only went thought quest once, it is an inefficient way to use programmers.

I can’t disagree more. To me, a quest-like game shall be the competitive advantage for Netease over foreign game companies. A company like Blizzard can hire programmers cost 100k/year vs. Netease hiring programmers cost 5k/year, who will have more competitive advantage.?

A WOW quest where average Chinese player can’t really relate to vs. a quest based on mythical Chinese legends, which one do you think average Chinese players prefer?

Anyway, a WOW-clone that is dominated by quests will be extremely popular in China. But that game is NOT TX2. Either Netease do it, or somebody else will.

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