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Netease Core R&D Team Hops to Linekong

Tencent, 11/21/07

Earlier reports that most of the core members who left Netease's online game development team have joined Linekong have been confirmed by Linekong CEO Wang Feng. More details could not be disclosed at this time.

According to reports, this is the original Kingsoft "JX" 3-D game project team, which, after joining NetEase in 2003, formed Ark Game Studio and went on to produced the large-scale 3-D online game "Datang" and "Datang Haoxia 2".

In early November it was claimed that eight group members, including chief planner Liu Wei, chief programmer Huang Shuhuai, and others involved in numerical systems development, implementation, and other areas had already officially joined Linekong.

LENS: NetEase has focused on fostering its own in-house game development ability, viewing this as a key advantage over game operators like The9, which rely mainly on licensing from outside developers. This road, however, has proven a difficult one, with heavy expenses incurred developing mega-flops like Datang Haoxia and significant staff turn-over.

Netease poached Kingsoft's "JX" development team in 2003 at a "significant cost". The team produced Datang Haoxia, which began closed beta testing in May 2007 with an average concurrent user (ACU) figure of 150,000 players, but after commercial launch as a pay-to-play game in July, the ACU dropped by 60%-70%. In an attempt to lure back these players, Netease quickly announced that the R&D team was developing "Datang Haoxia 2", to be launched as a free-to-play game. However, before even finishing "Datang Haoxia 2", the R&D team jumped ship, returning to former colleague (ex-Kingsoft senior VP) and current Linekong CEO, Wang Feng.

This loss of R&D talent followed a similar setback in June 2006, when the team that developed Netease's blockbuster, Fantasy Westward Journey, was poached by Kingsoft. In Q1 2006, Fantasy Westward Journey contributed nearly 50% of Netease's game revenue.

For additional information on Linekong, please see:

Online Gaming Operator Linekong Lands VC Investment, MW 05/18/07 issue;

Linekong to Operate 2 New Online Games, MW 07/13/07 issue.

Keywords: Netease NTES Linekong online gaming game developer game operator Kingsoft JX Ark Game Studio Datang Haoxia Datang Haoxia 2 Internet HR

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