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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, September 10, 2008

NTES - TX2 status part 1 – 1st expansion pact

My last article on TX2 can be found here:

Starting September 2008, NTES had started to release TX2’s first expansion pact. See the following site on the contents of the expansion pact:

This expansion pact is going to be released in three stages. Each stage will consist of about 3 to 4 major new functions. The first stage will be released on late August 2008. Out of three major functions, its most important function is the new battlefield playing feature will be released. In addition, multiple fighting-specific servers will be opened. Features emphasize fighting will force players to upgrade their equipment (swords, shield, elixir, etc). Those equipments cost money to purchase.

The second stage will be released in late September. Out of four major new features, the most important will be the maximum player level will be increased from 60 to 70. Of course, there will be new (more powerful) equipments that will come with the higher level. For example, a 70 level player with 40-level equipment will probably lose to a 50-level player with 70-level equipment.

The third stage of the expansion pact will only have one major feature. But boy, is that an important feature. It will be the signature feature of TX2. The castle siege feature will be released. This is scheduled to occur on October.

When NTES fired the old head designer of TX2 on 4/30/2007, I was actually happy they did that. I never thought the old TX2 could be a mega-hit. I never thought a paying game centered on castle siege can be a mega-hit.

Now after NTES revamped TX2 completely, TX2 becomes a free-to-play game. Castle siege will be absolutely ideal for a free-to-play game.

The new TX2 is now much more friendly to single player (players who are not part of a clan), but at its core, it is still going to be a game dominated by the clans. And Castle siege will be the singular calling card for TX2.

I regard the difference between paying game and free-to-play game as the difference between Communism and Capitalism. In the paying game, everybody is the same (just like Communism). Even if a player wants to spend more money, he can’t in the paying game because the cost is fixed (for old TX2, the cost is fixed at 0.4 RMB per hour). But in the free-to-play game, there is no limit on how much a player can spend.

In a normal free-to-play game, most players spend money on his character. But there is only so much one can spend to make his character powerful. Of course, TX2 also has pets/mounts/rides. That is another area the players can spend money on.

But to get big money from the super rich, TX2 will have to get the player to spend money not on himself but on his clan. The big money will be made on players who are willing to spend for the clan (that have thousands of members). This is where castle siege comes in.

TX can be translated as “under heaven”, “kingdom”, or “empire”. Just the name of the game will tell you that it is a global domination game. The game starts out with no empire or kingdoms. These clans are the kingdoms. To become the singular empire under heaven, the clans have to fight it out among themselves. There are multiple castles in each server. The clans will be fighting it out for these castles.

TX2 will be a game that will be completely unscripted. The game designers don’t control the story. The game players (clans) determine the story of the game.

One clan has to forcibly take the castle from another clan. When a clan takes over a castle, it also takes over the shops in the castle. It also needs to defend the castle. The castle needs to be fortified. The gate needs to be thickened. Specialized weapon need to be made. Those upgrades require special trade smith (carpenters, steel smith, etc.). It therefore keeps clans members busy. In addition to labor, these upgrades also require raw materials. Those raw materials will need to be purchased.

As clans starts to expand, specialty castle siege weapons need to be build. Again, those require labor from the clan members and money for the raw materials. Therefore, a successful clan leader needs to be both charismatic as well as rich. He also has to be willing to spend.

TX2, with castle siege at its core, will be a game that will satisfy both NTES and the super rich players. NTES gets to have those super rich players open their wallets. For the super rich players, they get to experience true power thru the game. They get to have thousands of clan members under their control. For the clan members, they get to experience camaraderie as well as be part of something bigger than they are. They get to shape the destiny of the future of the game. For non-clan players, they get to experience the life of a lone kung fu master during a war ravaged time.

And the best part is that nobody knows how the future holds. Game designers don’t control the story. Everybody have influence on the future of the game, but nobody determines it.

TX2 will be an intoxicating game to play. That will make it into a very popular game. More importantly, TX2 will be a game that attract rich players and help them to spend their money.

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