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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

NTES announced the delay of XY2 to XY3 players’ migration

About 8 hours after my last post (which can be found here: http://chinese-net-gaming-stock.blogspot.com/2007/10/netease-will-start-to-develop-xy2-again.html ), NTES announced that the players migration will be delayed.

NTES’s link is below:


From my last post, I predicted that the migration will still occur, but it will happen at a much later date. I was right! 8 hours after I posted my predictions, NTES announced that the player migration from XY2 to XY3 will be delayed and will happen about 6 months from now. The migration will not be mandatory. The player can choose to migrate to XY3 or stay at XY2. But the migration will only happen once. XY2 will continue to be in operation even after the migration.

It will be interesting to see the progress of both games in the next few weeks. I would expect some major game playing features additions for XY3 in the next couple of weeks. Both XY2 and XY3 will probably consolidate many servers while adding new servers at the same time. It will be interesting to follow the server statistics for both games.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Netease will start to develop XY2 again

My previous post on XY3 can be found from below:


Previously, NTES had said that they will stop the development of XY2 and devote all their effort on XY3. Now they have changed their mind and will start to develop XY2 again. From the following article, NTES will start to develop XY2 again.


I will translate the article below:

1. NTES will consolidate servers.

2. NTES will completely modify the gang warfare systems.

3. NTES will develop new tasks and plots.

4. NTES will develop new playing environment and play areas.

5. NTES will develop new playing PvP features (Players vs. Players)

6. NTES will develop the cross-servers battleground.

7. NTES will develop new gang-warfare features.

From reading between the lines, I think I can make the following observations:

  1. By consolidating servers, NTES is indicating that they will start to keep on developing XY2 and try to get the lost players back.
  2. Almost all the features they will be developing are geared for high-level players. It looks like they are not going to extend the players developments. As a result, I don’t think they will extend the maximum levels.
  3. Most of the features they want to develop are for those players who had already reached the maximum levels.

Frankly, it is a surprise to me. But I don’t think it means XY3 is a failure. Personally, from observing the servers statistics, I think XY3 is doing fine and is growing again.

I think it is probably the case that no matter how much you plans, there is always something new that will catch you by surprise. There are reasons why most game companies won’t do what NTES attempts to do with the XY2 to XY3 transition.

When a XY2 player character is being transitioned to the XY3, he automatically becomes a high level (for example, level 160) player. But at this point, XY3 development team only developed up to level 100. If NTES forced XY3 development team to develop all the plots and tasks needed for the players to get to level 160 in such a short time. It most likely means substandard products.

Based on the observations I have, my speculation is that the XY2 to XY3 transition will still occur, but it will probably not be any time soon. They will probably develop XY3 slowly and methodically to the high player levels. But for the mean times, a lot of existing XY2 players are sitting on the side line playing other games and waiting to get transitioned to XY3, NTES want to get these players back.

NTES will get these players back by adding new PvP contents to the old XY2. On the other hand, NTES won’t increase the maximum players’ levels of the XY2 much (thus it won’t force XY3 to increase their maximum players’ levels).

Another advantage of keeps on developing XY2 is to make XY2 closer and closer to XY3. One of the major complains of the XY2 players is that XY3 is too different from XY2. Rather than developing the XY3 closer and closer to XY2 and going backward, now NTES can develop XY2 closer and closer to XY3. In 6 months or 1 year, when the XY2 is substantially close to XY3, a lot of XY2 players will be willing to transition to the new game.

It will be safe to say that, for the near term (the next 6 months), XY3 won’t be on the same level of the XY2 at its maximum height. However, it is entirely possible that the combination of XY2 and XY3 would have more players than the old XY2 during its apex.

I will have to carefully observe the server statistics in the next few weeks to see the following trend:

Will XY2 grow again? Will XY3 continue to grow?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Chinese Internet Pinyin Input system War Status

The last time I talked about this subject is all the way back in April 2007. The 2 parts article is as follows:



That was when Google got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Sohu developed a Chinese Internet Input system called Sogou Pinyin. Google stole their technology and was caught.

At the time, I thought Sohu shall make a big deal out of it and even go to the length of suing.

Sohu did try to make a PR battle to milk their product.

But surprisingly, they didn’t push for Sogou search engine. They pushed the Sogou Pinyin system.

It seems they valued Sogou Pinyin system more than they valued Sogou Search engine. That really puzzled me.

First, we all know how much profit a great search engine can bring. Secondly, the Pinyin system is going to be free. There is no way Sohu can ever charge for it.

In addition, there is no way you can put ads on it. Users wouldn’t tolerate it.

Interestingly, both Google and Tencent seem to believe in this type of product.

Google Pinyin method is continually being worked on. Actually, Google is doubling their effort to coming out with patches and upgrade to make their product better.

Now, Tencent is going to come out with their QQ Pinyin soon. From the early reviews, it is clear that Tencent had spent a lot of effort to develop this product.

Sohu is continuing developing the Sogou Pinyin. They just came out with the version 3.0 final beta. The final version should be out any day.

The following is a link of a comparison review between the Sogou Pinyin v3 beta and QQ Pinyin Beta:


The result is really not that surprising. QQ is an excellent product considering it is brand new. Actually, it is not even a version 1.0 product. But still, it is behind Sogou Pinyin in pretty much every aspects.

I can’t find any survey on this segment. But from anecdotal evidence, it seems it is a two headed horse race between Sogou and Google, with Sogou Pinyin (possibly significantly) ahead.

But QQ Pinyin could be a big threat to Sogou Pinyin. As the dominant instant messaging platform, QQ Pinyin could be on every computer in China by default.

For Sogou Pinyin to stay ahead, Sogou have to have functionalities significantly ahead of QQ Pinyin for average users to stick with Sogou.

Finally, why are all these big shot companies spending so much effort on a product that would never make any money?

I don't really know. But I can speculate...

First, it has some tangential benefit. A user might want to customize the Pinyin so it includes individualized characters (such as his or her name), his preferred skin, etc. To do that, the user has to get a Sohu user name and password. This Sohu user name can then used across all Sohu products (Sohu’s PC games, Sohu websites, etc.). Thus, it become easier to use other Sohu products. That is, the Pinyin method become a gateway for a new user to use Sohu's other products.

Since it is required (at least highly preferable) that users is connected to the internet, who is to say that the characters the users typed in are not being send back to a Sohu database. In addition, who is to say that these Pinyin system won't send where the users being back to a Sohu database (it might actually provide some useful functions to the users. As more information is sent back to the company's mainframe database, it allows for the predictive alogorithm to more accurately customize for that particular user. It might result in more accurate prediction of what the users might type later).

A database like that could be extremely useful to a company like Sohu because it gives them a snapshot of the behavior of the Chinese internet users. In addition, if they want to sell these information (as long as they don’t keep track of individual user’s behavior), I think it will be an extremely profitable business.

Again, the above is purely my speculation. This input system war reminded me of the browser war between Netscape and Microsoft back in the 90s. Microsoft won that war, but they never really monetize the Internet Explorer. It will be interesting to see who will be the winner of the Chinese input system war, whether the winner can monetize the product, and how can it be monetized?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Status on TX2

My previous post on TX2 is as follows:


On 9/25/2007, to celebrate Chinese moon festival, TX2’s design team gave a 12 point brief description of the new TX2.

As you remember, TX2 was in the middle of open beta before it is yank back into development again. The chief designer was replaced and the whole development team had been revamped. From what I understand, a lot of old team are still there, but they added many new members.

The link to the new info on TX2 is as follows:


I attached the original text in Chinese and my translation as follows:











新的灵兽系统主要是将坐骑作为一个长期陪伴玩家游戏的宠物存在。它不能帮助玩家战斗, 但可以给玩家强力的属性加成,甚至是新的技能,给玩家快速的移动,还可以通过级别的增长带来外形的不同变化,甚至还可以牵着自己的灵兽到处遛遛和别人的坐 骑比拼一下谁的比较华丽。想象一下,你将一个灵兽蛋慢慢的孵化、喂养,最终成为了一只可以自由飞行的全身战甲的神兽或者全身被云雾笼罩的仙兽,伴随你在大 荒世界中四处与妖魔战斗,这个过程的体验将会非常有趣。至于我们将开放的灵兽数量暂时卖个关子,不过大家可以放心的是绝对有足够丰富的种类供大家选择。


城市战争在二测开始时暂时不会有,因为这次调整涉及大量底层内容的调整例如装备结构、 经济系统、任务系统等,所以我们会将势力相关的多人玩法放在这些基础内容稳定以后再放出。请大家相信,光是这些基础的个人玩法都能够大家玩上很长一阵子 了。紧接着还会有资料片等等内容。我们有了一测时候多人玩法所积累的经验,不日我们再次推出的势力、团队玩法一定会让大家满意的。










2.其 实大家所关心的风格问题不用太多担心的,开发组不会将天下贰变为外国游戏,例如大家所谈到的一些使用了某某元素很像哪国的东西等等,在游戏制作中更多的考 虑是游戏性,世界上的元素全部变成了可创造和利用的对象,但绝不以为着我们走向西方了。在天下贰中大家看到的还是我们本土的文化和感人的大荒故事。














本帖最后由 不见长安 2007-9-25 17:07 编辑


The following is my brief translation:

  1. Skill systems will be completely reworked, especially the close-combat system.
  2. The storyline will be completely rewritten. There will be tremendous amount of tasks in the storyline.
  3. Talks about the pet, horse, or other animals. Some may be able to fly.
  4. There will not be castle siege during the open beta. Shortly after the commercial operation, there will be an expansion pact. Castle siege system won’t be ready until after that.
  5. The biggest change from the current (1st stage open beta) system is the economy system.
  6. Talks about the life skill system.
  7. Talks about how to use mouse and keyboard for game control.
  8. The game is reworked with the latest version of Bigworld engine, version 1.8.
  9. It will give more chance for the users to use different types of clothes.
  10. Player characters will have more facial animation.
  11. The special emphasis is on game engine resource optimization. Every piece of software code was written with this in mind.
  12. Expect (hope) to have the 2nd stage of open beta by the end of the year. There will be a short close beta before that.

If you recall from my previous article:


I mentioned that NTES shall give the new TX2 designers 9 to 12 months to revamp the game. If the new TX2 goes open beta at year end, that means commercial operation around February. That will be about 9 months, as I had hoped.

The old TX2 is centered around gang warfare and castle siege. I said it would be a niche game. I said I hope the TX2 could be a WOW clone instead and thus cater to the main stream players.

From above, the castle siege won’t be ready well into commercial operation. The new TX2 will have a complicated and novel like main storylines. In addition, TX2 will have many side quests. From the way it goes, it does seem like they are positioning TX2 as a WOW clone. Again, they are doing what I had hoped.

I am a little surprised that they are reworking the game engine. I didn’t think they would have enough time. That is a lot of work for such a short time.

One big problem they faced before is that the game was too computer intensive that only players with fast computer can play. This is clearly the emphasis for the new TX2 development. This basically means the whole computer code have to be revamped. Together with the new game engine, hopefully, they can solve this problem once and for all.

Because this problem is mostly caused by the fact that the player computer needs to reflect thousands of players movement, two other factors that would help the new TX2. One year later means more players will have more updated computers. In addition, as TX2 adds more side quests. These side quests are basically just single player game in disguise and will not contribute to players congestion.

A side benefit is that now the players can have vastly different equipments and costumes. A fantasy world of 5000 players with 5000 different costumes is much harder on the computer than a fantasy world of 5000 players with the same costume.

It was one of the major complaints by the players that they can’t have many choices of character costumes. Now, it looks like this will be fixed.

From the way the design team is going, it has the making of a major game. China needs a WOW-clone. It looks like TX2 is going to be one.

Now, the only thing that can set TX2 back is that it will most likely be a paying game. With all the free-to-play games on the market, life will be very unforgiving for a paying game.

The next 6 to 9 months is going to be the make or break time for NTES. They just came out with a major expansion pact for XYQ. XY3 just went into commercial operation. Most likely before the end of the year, XY3 will start the XY2 to XY3 conversion.

Then, by the end of the year, TX2 will go into open beta with commercial operation 1 to 2 months afterward. TX2 will be positioned to compete directly with WOW.

By about the same time, we will probably see NTES’s first free-to-play game, Fly for Fun 2 (FF2). Most likely FF2 will go into open beta and commercial operation in the late 1st quarter 2008.

In the 2nd quarter 2008, we would most like see the open beta for the next NTES’s major game, DT2.

It won’t surprise me that by the 2nd half of next year, we will see NTES with 3 or 4 major hits.

By the way, there are major news on XY2 and XY3. I hope I will have the time to write them up in the next few days.


A test for now