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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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Ntes – TX2 – Progress 3 – What shall NTES do?

My previous post in this article is here:


From the following article:


Netease had changed the chief designer of TX2. See also the following article for about the same news:


The chief design has a personal blog, it is on http://blog.163.com/gao_bell_ring/ His name is Gao and he is a 29 years old young man.

I had been reading his blog for a few months to get some insight. It is a pretty good read. His blog gives some hints about Netease the company. It confirmed my impression that Ntes is a technology company that really treasures talents. It gives tremendous amount of responsibility and trust to its legends of lead game designers.

The chief designer of a game has a lot of authorities. Sometimes, I got the impression that they regards Vice-presidents’ and CEO’s directions as suggestions rather than orders.

Ntes may have over-done it in this case. Sometimes the game designer wants to develop the most revolutionary or innovative game rather than the most profitable game. The game designer wants to build the most artistic game rather than the game most gamers want to play. A game other game designers would woo and aah, but also a game that can’t keep players.

After reading his blog for the last six months, I do get the sense of knowing the guy (of course, I don’t). He is very talented and artistic. He has a sensitive soul. He is also supremely confident. He seems to have a fragile ego that he doesn’t take criticism well. He is so confident in his grand vision that game players will be in awe once he finished TX2’s development. In his mind, TX2’s full potential is still many months (or year) away.

He believe that as long as he build it, they (the game players) will come. He is supremely talented, but somewhere along the way, he starts to deviate from what the gamers want. Let me give an example:

Gamers had been complaining about the background music in one of main playing area on the game map. These music come from the true ancient Chinese music. The chief designers spent a lot of resources to get historical and musical experts to duplicate these music. They modify some for modern time. They do capture the essence of a time so ancient that most players are definitely not familiar with.

Most players hated it. But the chief designer believe in it and the music stays.

An analogy would be for Lord of the Real Online uses Shakespearean English as the mean to communicate! Or to make Beethoven or Mozart's music as the background music for Harry Potter's game.

It maybe truly be a master piece, but it doesn’t satisfy the popular taste.

Something drastic must had happened for Netease to do this. Most other companies would have try to get another guy in charge while making the current design lead the deputy. Maybe the egos involved are just too big for them to coexist together. But it will lose whatever continuity for the game development.

TX2’s Chief designer is probably not feeling very well now. His baby for the past 4 years had been taken away from him. But I don’t feel sad for him. I am sure by now, CEOs of NCTY, SNDA, and 10 others game companies had already left messages on his answering machine to beg for appointments.

TX2’s chief designer and his core team were the one who developed XYQ. The rumor is Netease uses its XY2’s core team to take over (it is just a rumor and I can’t confirm it).

Something this drastic has to cause cascading affect to the whole company. We are talking about basically the two best design teams Netease have.

This will not just affect TX2, it will probably have a negative affect on XY3 as some of its designers were shifted away to TX2. I am certain most other new major games will be affected as well.

At this point, Netease is probably trying to figure out what is the next step for TX2. If I were Netease, I would not have a regular open beta for TX2.

A regular open beta usually last for 1 to 2 months. That would be just too soon. I wish TX2 could be revamped, not just patched.

As I mentioned many times, TX2 (even if successful) would just be a niche product. A game with so much emphasis on gang warfares won’t ever be a true blockbuster. What TX2 aught to be a WOW clone.

As I mentioned before, there is a great need for a WOW-clone game with the only difference of that this game builds around ancient Chinese mythology. Make TX2 be that game. Build lots of quests. Put more relationship into the game.

Doesn’t need to down-grade the existing PvP features (they are unique and shall be a selling point), just don’t make them the only selling points.

WOW’s expansion pact is rumored to be out in China at the end of June. It would be suicidal for TX2 to compete head to head with the Burning Crusade.

Give TX2 and its new chief designer 9 to 12 months to revamp the game.

Yes, it would probably cause short term pain on Ntes’s stock price. But I invest for the long term, and I hope Ntes ship herself right again.

Oh, Ntes, how about start marketing for TX2 now. Sohu started marketing for TL more than a year ago. NCTY starts marketing for SUN long time ago also.

Ntes, please forget about these stock buybacks.

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