NetEase and Improbable today signed a deal in China that will see the Chinese giant develop and publish games on Improbable's SpatialOS platform. Described as a 'broad partnership' Improbable will be opening an office in CHina to support the expansion.
It's arguably the most significant deal yet signed by the company, whose SpatialOS platform allows games to run on a platform independent of specific servers, allowing for large player numbers, richer simulations and ongoing persistence.
NetEase is among the biggest players in Chinese gaming, running a number of highly-popular titles - including Knives Out, Fantasy Westward Journey and Onmyoji - as well as operating games for western publishers in China, including Blizzard's titles such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2 and Hearthstone.
CEO Herman Narula signed the deal in Beijing at a UK Department for International Trade event. More details on the deal should be available around the time of GDC.
SpatialOS looks to be building steam this year, with numerous projects in development and integration with the key game engines. We expect a number of games to be announced, or enter early access, around GDC.
The technology aims to break the design stranglehold that the single-server model has placed on all but the largest and most technically-capable developers - it should allow all developers to create larger, more complex worlds, in the same way Unity and Unreal have democratised game development in general.
Rob Whitehead, CTO at Improbable, speaking to MCV recently said: 'Platforms need to empower, not constrain.'