Microsoft’s Minecraft is heading to China the legal way.
NetEase, the Chinese software publisher, has announced Friday that it will release the mobile and PC version of Minecraft in China. But things are not as simple as they sound and behind the announcement, there is a complicated route the big Western company has to face to do business in China.
As the other reporters explain, the delay between the acquisition of Minecraft and the game’s official arrival in China, one of the world’s biggest markets, was caused by the complicated Chinese trade regulations.
The “sandbox” game lets players build castles and dungeons from basic blocks. It is possibly the world’s most popular game, having sold over 70 million worldwide copies. In 2014, Microsoft paid Mojang, Minecraft’s Swedish developer, $2.5 billion to help the game reach numerous platforms and new regions; and it did, ever since.
To publish a game in China, you need at least six permits, and they’re usually only released to local companies. This means even giants like Microsoft, a multinational with a significant local presence, must enter a partnership with a local publisher to have a game released in China.
Or as an alternative to the six permits, as James Gwertzman, former PopCap executive sarcastically explains, you could marry a Chinese person and have them open up a domestic entity.
The same challenging route must be undertaken by companies in many other industries. In the gaming zone, NetEase and Tencent are the top local partners companies come to in order to penetrate the Chinese market. Other big projects covered by NetEase are Blizzard’s games, including the massive World of Warcraft.
Even after taking a local partner, Microsoft still has two things to worry about: smear campaigns, more harsh regulations, knockoffs, and counterfeiting. Being officially released, Microsoft’s Minecraft could still raise the government’s ire and become the focus of other tough laws or the media’s target for defaming campaigns.
Also, China’s software market is pretty vulnerable because of lax laws against counterfeiting. Reports have suggested that sometimes even the local partners are culprits in these practices. NetEase has not been implicated in the “copycat” business so far.
A release date for the Chinese Minecraft has not been yet announced.
Image Source: Pixabay