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Monday, October 25, 2021

(Chinese Company) NetEase Games Acquires Grasshopper Manufacture

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - GRASSHOPPER MANUFACTURE DEAD?

The gaming world got what I consider to be bad news—Goichi Suda (SUDA51)'s game development studio, Grasshopper Manufacture (known for games like The Silver Case, killer7, and No More Heroes) joined up with Chinese gaming company NetEase Games, after previously being owned by Japanese gaming company GungHo Online Entertainment, known for games like Puzzles & Dragons.

NetEase, for its part, is known for operating Chinese versions of non-Chinese games, like World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and EVE Online (because the company literally called CCP Games isn't Chinese), as well as being on Tencent's level of releasing online mobile games that the Chinese Communist Party wishes to stop having exploit children. (Many of those games appear to be rip-offs of other games.) It was Tencent and NetEase together in the CCP's (Chinese Communist Party's, not to be confused with the developer of EVE Online, CCP Games) scary private meeting, after all.


In their joint announcement, Grasshopper/NetEase promised that the big Chinese company will provide the visionary punk game studio “advising on our business planning activities and providing sufficient funding for game development.” Meanwhile, Grasshopper will retain its creativity responsibility, while being able to keep its style we all know it for. Grasshopper will also have access to NetEase's “thousands of artists and technical experts in terms of game art and quality assurance”, which is hundreds times more employees than Grasshopper has. (Believe me, they definitely need the quality assurance.) Despite us just learning about this now, the agreement was on May 31, which was before No More Heroes III released. Given the recent regulations going on in China around videogaming, that makes this scene... even more amusing than it already was:



Anyway, I wouldn't misinterpret this acquisition as Goichi Suda will now have to work on crappy rip-off mobile games for China now. The announcement specifically states the purpose of the get-together is “developing more unique console games together”, and Grasshopper's biography at the end of the announcement stresses their console-based credentials. That shouldn't change. NetEase obviously wants to expand their portfolio, not continue strengthening what they've already been doing. The statement says to expect three Grasshopper Manufacture games in the next ten years.

In fact, it's pretty likely that Grasshopper games will continue to release in their current markets (not China), fitting the China theme of wanting to conquer the cultures of other nations now that they've pretty much assumed full control over their own. The NetEase press release is actually quite similar to the one when GungHo acquired Grasshopper Manufacture in 2013, citing how GungHo will provide SUDA51's company with resources while celebrating its creative independence. I'll... let you all debate how much that came true in the comments section.

I'm more concerned that this probably means I really shouldn't buy Grasshopper Manufacture games anymore, based on my anti-China purchase policy that I'm very actively applying to Tencent, even and especially to things like Pokémon UNITE. So, uh... that's a real shame.

No More Heroes III 3 limit your gaming to ten hours per day Sylvia start the game
I thought I could just throw this into my next anti-China regulation article.
I had no idea when I took the screenshot that the anti-China article would actually be very related to No More Heroes!



Ludwig is getting pretty sad as he's trying to write through this footer statement and publish the article, since he isn't sure how a studio that's about punk spirit is supposed to thrive being a subsidiary company under the most anti-free-thinking regime possible. However, SUDA51 did seem to willingly agree to this transition, so perhaps he knows very important, non-public information. Feel free to speculate about it in the comments section.

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