Chinese game developer and publisher NetEase today announced a new program called the NetEase Success Fund that it hopes will offer an alternative financing and publishing model for indie game developers. Indie developers accepted in the program will receive up to US$500,000 from NetEase, but it doesn’t come in the form of a traditional investment. Instead, NetEase takes no equity in the indies it chooses, but takes a pre-defined sum back in the form of revenue sharing as the game’s publisher.
Although NetEase is a Chinese company, NetEase North America GM David Ting told Tech in Asia that gaming startups and indies from all over the world are eligible. “The quality of the product is top of mind for us and we judge this by reviewing games for their fun factor as well as potential success in the market,” Ting said. In fact, the studio sees this fund as a way to strengthen its global ambitions by forming closer partnerships with Western gaming studios. “[With Success Fund] we’ll get a stronger foothold into [the US] market and be able to establish better relationships outside of China,” Ting said.
Ting says the new fund is open to all gaming genres and platforms, although NetEase’s priority will be free-to-play mobile games. There’s also no specific number of studios that Netease is looking for in this first round. “There’s really no telling how many games we will select at this point,” said Ting. “Ultimately, it will come down to the quality of the games we are seeing.”
Ting says that NetEase sees its success fund as addressing a problem in the global game development community: “There are so many quality developers out there but many of them need some financial help to get noticed. […] There is a lot of talent out there and one of the major issues that we’re seeing is discoverability. Hopefully through this program we can help talented mobile game developers get more visibility to the audience they’re trying to reach.”