One of China's Biggest Game Developers Looks to Expand Globally

NetEase is trying to learn how to bring new games to the United States and abroad

Developer NetEase is a powerhouse in its home country China, earning more from games than Nintendo and rivaled only by Tencent Holdings Ltd – which owns Riot Games, among others. Despite that big footprint in the east with games like Fantasy Westward Journey II and Demon Seals, the company is hoping to make the jump overseas to the U.S. and abroad, and it hopes to do it fast.

According to a report by Bloomberg Technology, NetEase is hoping 30-percent of its total revenue will be from overseas transaction by 2020, in just a mere three years. In order to make that happen, the company is currently on a global hiring spree, taking in whoever it thinks may be a good fit.

Not that that's something the company's been able to do easily in the past. Despite being one of the first internet companies to come to the U.S. during the dotcom bubble in the 1990s, Bloomberg points out, NetEase has had an uphill battle making any real kind of splash.

"Whenever we demonstrate our titles worldwide, people can see our self-made titles have very high production values," vice president Ethan Wang told Bloomberg. "But the problem is that while we may make very good games, we are not familiar with the rhythm of overseas users, their ways of playing games."

As of right now, NetEase has a pretty good stranglehold on China, though it's being consistently beat out by its main rival Tencent. In an industry estimated to be worth $109 billion this year, NetEase sees global expansion as the way to go to maintain steady growth. But it's finding differences in player habits to be a struggle. Where the company is used to games where players "spend money to buy time," as Wang puts it, NetEase is finding the global game market to be more interested in free-to-play game models.

So while the company currently has over 100 games in development - mostly targeted for Chinese audiences - it's been expanding steadily to other countries since 2014 in an effort to have people on the ground floor of different game markets.

"Our hiring depends on the projects. But really our overseas job listings are totally open. If we spot good talent we'll take them all," Wang said. The company currently has 70 employees in the U.S. He adds that by 2020, NetEase hopes to have 30-percent of its revenue come from overseas markets. For comparison, currently only about five percent of its revenue comes from overseas.

NetEase is finding its necessary to change some of its philosophies in order to reach the growth it desires. Where other eastern companies have found success through making acquisitions, NetEase has been more conservative with whom it chooses to buy up. This, however, is something it recognizes it needs to get away from.

"When it comes to it, there’s frankly no clear guidance of 'you can only spend X amount to buy a company,'" Wang said, adding the company's CEO will oversee that type of work.