One can find my last NTES related post here:
Right now, everybody is waiting to see when GAPP and Ministry of Culture will approve World of Warcraft』s next expansion pact. But everybody is missing two much more important recent developments.
Within the next 10 days, three new games will enter unlimited Closed Beta with permanent player statistics. Unlimited means anybody can play. This 「Closed Beta」 is not by invitation only. In addition, all player statistics will be permanent. That is, player statistics will not be erased at the end of this 「Closed Beta」. Thus, compare to the west, this is really commercial launch.
On the other hand, I think there will be minimal marketing for the 「Closed Beta」. NTES had been well known to be penny pinching on marketing.
YSG will enter unlimited Closed Beta with permanent player statistics on 4/9/2010. YSG is a 2.5D Turn based MMORPG game, based on Tale of three countries. It will be a free to play. But it is not a true item-based game. There are no items to purchase in this game. On the other hand, player can pay to buy 「essence level」 (精力值). Any time a player wants to get any goodies (such as experience, in-game currency, in-game items, etc.), he has to use up some of his 「essence level」. One can still play without paying any money. But he won』t get any 「essence level」. Thus one can』t get experience or item without 「essence level」. One can also get 「essence level」 through playing as team leader (or more like baby-sitter to other players). There is only one item in the online store, the 「essence level」, you can』t buy any other items in the online store. For PK (player kill), it incorporates 「Battle Chess」 style of play. It emphasizes the usage of battle formations. Therefore, there is a lot of strategy involved in player combat.
Therefore, this game is really NTES』s attempt to investigate another paying model (other than time-based, and item-based).
CSXY will enter its unlimited Closed Beta on 4/15/2010. This closed beta will have permanent player statistics. This game』s development starts in 2005. It is a turned based 3D game, based on BigWorld game engine. It will be a free to play, item-based game. It will be the third game behind the two blockbusters, XYQ and XY3.
DT2 will enter its unlimited closed beta on 4/16/2010. Again, this closed beta will have permanent player statistics. It is a 2.5D real time game. It will be a free-to-play, item-based game. This game emphasize player PK. This game encourages PvP but there are also some PvE elements. Basically this is a game for PK.
DT2 has promotional video for its closed beta. One can find it here:
I had always defined a game to be a blockbuster if its PCU can break the important 500k barrier. For MMORPG (without counting the casual game), one can count all the blockbusters in China with two hands. NTES has three of them, WOW, XYQ, and XY2.
Of NTES』s other existing games, TX2 will probably reach blockbuster status by 2011 (it probably has PCU closed to 300k and is still growing strongly).
But out of about 10 new games in the pipeline, I can only see two games that have the chance to reach blockbuster status. These two games are DT2 and CSXY.
A new WOW expansion pact is important in that it will probably give a 10% to 20% kick to the amount of WOW players. It will also indicate the closure between the unpleasantness between GAPP and NTES. But the additional revenue will be shared between NTES and Blizzard.
A brand new blockbuster on the other hand will contribute much more to the bottom line. Somehow, the developments of these two games (DT2 and CSXY) are completely ignored by Wall Street.
At this point, there doesn』t seem to be a major marketing push for the 「Closed Beta」. NTES will probably using this period to continuously modify the game design. In a few months time, NTES will probably conduct a major marketing push for the 「Open Beta」.
But in two to three weeks, we would have some indication of the potential of these two games.