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NetEase unveils updates on more than 10 new video games, led by highly-anticipated 'triple-A' title Where Winds Meet

NetEase, China's second-largest video gaming company, has unveiled updates on more than 10 new titles, including a highly-anticipated "triple-A game" to be released in July, at its annual product launch this week amid heightened competition in the domestic market.

At the online event from its headquarters in Hangzhou, capital of eastern Zhejiang province, NetEase featured new titles covering a range of genres - from first-person shooter games to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) - as part of a series of announcements for more than 40 video game franchises and products.

NetEase highlighted Where Winds Meet, an open-world, action-adventure role-playing game for multiple platforms, including personal computers (PCs) developed by the firm's in-house studio Everstone. This title will undergo a new round of testing at the end of this month and hit the market on July 26, the company said.

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Where Winds Meet, which was first announced by NetEase in August 2022, is touted as a home-grown triple-A game - an informal classification in the industry that refers to video games from a mid-sized or major publisher, which typically have higher development and marketing budgets.

The latest product announcements by NetEase reflect intense competition in the world's second-largest video gaming market, where the industry's global revenue leader Tencent Holdings remains a major force.

NetEase's Fantasy Westward Journey mobile game is played on an iPhone. Photo: Shutterstock alt=NetEase's Fantasy Westward Journey mobile game is played on an iPhone. Photo: Shutterstock>

In the first quarter this year, China's video gaming market saw total sales grow 7.6 per cent year on year to 72.6 billion yuan (US$10 billion), compared with a 15 per cent drop in the same period in 2023, according to data from research institute CNG.

China's video gaming sector last year generated US$44.6 billion in total sales to rank behind that of the United States, with US$46.7 billion in revenue, according to market research firm Newzoo.

NetEase on Monday also announced the long-awaited Naraka: Bladepoint Mobile, the mobile version of the company's popular PC battle royale game Naraka: Bladepoint. The game is expected to be released within the year, although its developer 24 Entertainment has not yet provided a specific date.

Other NetEase titles that will soon be released on the mainland include shooting game Lost Light and MMORPG Ashfall, both of which have versions for PCs and smartphones.

NetEase, however, gave no hint at the Hangzhou event on when exactly the popular games under its partnership with Blizzard Entertainment would return to market. The two companies announced last month the resumption of their partnership on the mainland after an acrimonious break-up more than a year ago.

The companies' new deal will cover video games under their previous arrangement, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, and other titles in the Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo and StarCraft franchises.

A new agreement between NetEase and Blizzard Entertainment is expected to bring a number of popular video game titles back to China after an absence of more than a year. Photos: Shutterstock alt=A new agreement between NetEase and Blizzard Entertainment is expected to bring a number of popular video game titles back to China after an absence of more than a year. Photos: Shutterstock>

The team for World of Warcraft said it will reveal more information on June 6.

The mobile title was briefly taken down by Tencent for around an hour after its debut on Tuesday morning, owing to an "abnormality in server" - likely caused by a large number of players accessing the game's server - that the company said it needed to fix, without providing the cause.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2024 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2024. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.