UPDATE: As noted by the Financial Times, the NetEase investment actually amounts to $100m (£76m) – the $50m reported investment in newly created shares, and a $50m purchase of existing shares. The move values Improbable at $2 billion (£1.52 billion) – making it one of the most valuable private technology companies in the UK.
ORIGINAL: Following a partnership announcement earlier in the year, Chinese games publisher NetEase has pumped a $50 million (£38m) investment into British technology firm Improbable.
The deal sees NetEase take a small equity stake in the London-based firm, with the intention being for the Chinese company to develop and publish games using Improbable’s SpatialOS. The first game from NetEase using the tech will be announced later in the year, with additional projects to follow thereafter.
The investment, announced via Improbable, also allows for the studio to open an office based in China, aiding with future business opportunities across the China and Asia-Pacific region; something the company has been gunning for quite heavily in recent months.
NetEase seems a smart bet to partner up with in that respect – the company is a huge presence in Chinese gaming, running local favourites like Knives Out and Fantasy Westward Journey, alongside hosting servers for western imports such as World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2.
The deal follows the announcement of a partnership between the two firms back in February of this year – obviously matters have developed significantly since then, and the $50m golden handshake puts Improbable in an even better position than it already was.
This isn’t Improbable’s first sizeable investment, of course, with the company receiving a gigantic $502m (£383m) back in March of 2017. This latest influx of cash shows the company enjoys a growing profile – as well as increased valuation – even without any finished SpatialOS products on the market as of yet.
The first games using SpatialOS – the platform allowing games to run independent of specific servers, making for larger player counts, persistent worlds and deeper simulations – are set to release from Early Access later this year and into 2019.