Although NetEase is getting constricted in its native China by the state’s strict regulations of video game publishing, it doesn’t stop them from making major power moves in the video game industry overseas. Their latest shake-up is acquiring a minority stake in Quantic Dream, a video game developing studio by David Cage. Quantic Dream is known for cinematic PlayStation exclusive games, like Heavy Rain and Detroit: Become Human.
Both of those games are centered around interactive storytelling techniques and motion capture. As NetEase said, the studio will keep operating independently, led by its co-CEOs Cage and Guillaume de Fondaumière.
The biggest benefit for Quantic Dream is the breach to the Chinese market, which is the current biggest gaming hub. NetEase is one of the biggest companies on Chinese gaming landscape, along with Tencent. China did lift a ban on video games but there is still a very strict protocol about games that do not adhere to cultural guidelines and contain sexual or violent content. This might be troublesome for Quantic Dream due to their adult-oriented games.
Although the studio didn’t manage to replicate the success of Heavy Rain, its titles continue to perform well. Detroit: Become Human, the science fiction android saga made as Sony exclusive have been sold in more than 2 million copies. Quantic Dreams also heavily invested in motion capture, and even hired acclaimed actors Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe for Beyond: Two Souls. However, Page had considered suing Quantic for reportedly making a naked model of her character without her consent.
That is not the only scandal Quantic Dream was involved into. Last year, French media criticized the studio because of creating a toxic work atmosphere, which included the circulation of degrading photoshopped images of employees. Quantic denied the accusations and also sued Mediapart and Le Monde for defamation. Later that year, a French court decided that Quantic unfairly laid off one of the former employees who accused them of workplace harassment.
On the other hand, last June NetEase invested 100 million dollars in Bungie studio, makers of Halo and Destiny, while recently they renewed the publishing deal with Blizzard, which gives them the publishing rights for Blizzard’s assets like Overwatch and World of Warcraft in China.