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    NetEase: “Desperately looking for a successful Battle Royale”

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    Carlos Laforet Coll
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    NetEase Games is looking like crazy for a new hit in the Battle Royale genre. The Chinese publisher launches game after game, looking to replicate the success it achieved at the end of 2017. Success that now doesn't seem as easy as it used to be.

    Let's take a look at how NetEase got here and how its latest games haven't generated the “noise” expected.

    – NetEase and the success of “Terminator 2”

    Before the fashion for Battle Royale games on mobile, NetEase was a company focused on online MMORPGs. His biggest hit on mobile so far was the MMO Crusaders of Light.

    That changed when she launched a multiplayer versus mode for Terminator 2, a mobile game exclusive to the Chinese territory. The title entered beta in January 2017 and was released in June of that year.

    Months later, in August, came the idea of ​​launching a Battle Royale mode, inspired by the biggest hit on PC at the time, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. That's when the company noticed the “gold mine” in its hands.

    The game just exploded in China and neighboring countries. A guaranteed success, the Battle Royale mode dominated the games in the game, and NetEase quickly thought of replicating the success outside China, but there was a problem: Terminator 2 was tied to the Terminator 2 film franchise, and could not be released on the west (NetEase only had T2 rights in China).

    The solution then was to release a separate game, based on the same engine, but without the singleplayer mode. Born in November 2017, Rules of Survival.

    With the same protagonist imagined for T2, Rules of Survival inherited several things from the Chinese game. The game remained with a futuristic theme and some buildings and vehicles were still inspired by T2, but nothing that would cause problems for NetEase.

    – Knives Out e Survivor Royale

    Knivest Out was, and still is, a huge success, surpassing Rules of Survival.

    The fact is that in the corridors of NetEase, there were already rumors that PUBG Corp and Tencent would release a mobile version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

    The production company ran like crazy and assembled several teams that worked incessantly on side projects, all in the Battle Royale genre.

    That's how it came about Wilderness Action (Knives Out) and Survivor Royale, also late 2017. Two very similar games in the beginning, but that have changed a lot. Knives out became “the successful brother” and Survivor Royale still exists only to fulfill the table.

    – FortCraft e Creative Destruction

    FortCraft was so similar to Fortnite that the process was almost obvious.

    The truth is that NetEase has achieved resounding success with Rules of Survival and Knives Out. Both games passed the 50 million player mark and were huge hits throughout 2018. But NetEase wanted more.

    There was a lack of “Fortnite” on cell phones. The company's first attempt was so successful that it backfired.

    FortCraft had everything to be the “Fortnite” for weak phones. But the fear of prosecution seems to have been greater. In the photo, public interest grows with Fortnite's soft launch.

    FortCraft was launched to be a copy of Fortnite for less powerful phones. It was so similar that I think NetEase's own lawyers realized they could get into trouble.

    Thus, the FortCraft project was shelved and Creative Destruction took its place. CD as it is nicknamed, changed several game mechanics to be as different as possible from Fortnite, and thus, not stimulate lawsuits coming from Epic Games.

    The play worked. However, it started there, I wouldn't say crash, but NetEase's “not so successful” process.

    As everyone knows, Fortnite started to be released on Android in August 2018. Despite being lighter, the “clone”' Creative Destruction never had the success expected by NetEase.

    Creative Destruction never came close to PUBG Mobile and Free Fire in revenue and download numbers.

    CD never really took off and always stayed there with average success. Not that the game is a failure, far from it, but it was clear that a good part of the public did not understand that CD was the only way to have a Fortnite clone on cell phones.

    – Tons of Battle Royale

    After CD didn't perform as expected, NetEase launched (or rather, put it to the test) one Battle Royale after another. King of Hunters, Ride Out Heroes and Cyber ​​Hunter are in testing, all without a release date.

    NetEase's new Battle Royales are not making the expected success.

    After months of testing, re-testing, and soft launch, it became evident that none would bring the return that Knives Out and Rules of Survival did.

    Recently, NetEase announced Disorder, which appears to be more of a Battle Royale for mobile. Apparently, the game will be inspired by Apex Legends, the only BR to stand out after PUBG and Fortnite.

    – Success in other genres

    Interestingly, NetEase has been successful in other game genres. Identity V, which is a relatively simple project, brought in around $3 million dollars in February alone. More than popular games like Rules of Survival and Creative Destruction.

    Will NetEase get another successful BR on cell phones? Or has the “copy and paste” formula run out? Leave a comment.

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