China’s NetEase snaps up French video game studio Quantic Dream


NetEase logo
Image Credits: Wang Bin/VCG / Getty Images

NetEase, a Chinese technology company and billion-dollar video-game publisher, has acquired French video-game studio Quantic Dream. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The deal means that NetEase now has its first studio in Europe, and comes just a few months after the Hangzhou-based company launched its first hub in the U.S., located in Austin, Texas.

Founded in 1997, NetEase has emerged as one of the world’s top 10 gaming companies by revenue, ahead of Nintendo and Electronic Arts, but behind its arch rival Tencent, which sits in pole position. Quantic Dream, meanwhile, launched out of France the same year as NetEase did in China, though it has chosen a more modest path to growth, with some 200 employees today, and has remained entirely private with minimal outside funding.

However, it’s worth noting that NetEase — which trades on the Nasdaq with a current market cap of more than $57 billion — made an undisclosed minority investment in Quantic Dream back in 2019. So today’s announcement that it has gone all-in and bought the company outright perhaps shouldn’t come as a major surprise, particularly at a time when NetEase is seemingly on an overseas expansion mission.

NetEase also invested $100 million in U.S. video game company Bungie back in 2018, though Sony took Bungie off the menu when it swooped in to acquire the firm in a $3.6 billion deal that closed last month.


Elsewhere, there has been a flurry of consolidation across the gaming realm of late. Just this week, Sony announced it was buying Savage Game Studios, while Take Two recently closed its $12.7 billion Zynga acquisition. And Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion offer for Activision Blizzard is currently facing regulatory scrutiny.

So NetEase’s push into Europe very much fits into a broader trend that has seen gaming companies of all sizes targeted by larger firms looking for a bigger piece of the $200 billion video game market.

While Quantic Dream has only made around five games since its inception, last year it announced that it had been commissioned by Lucasfilm to develop a new game called Star Wars Eclipse, something that may have spurred Netease to go all-in on Quantic Dream. On top of that, rumors recently emerged that Quantic Dream has been struggling to hire for the game, which is due out some time in the next few years, so having a well-financed corporate parent may well change Quantic Dreams’ fortunes on that front. In a blog post today, Quantic Dream wrote:

In order to continue our development and presence in the world, but also to fund other studios and become an international publisher, larger investments are needed for us to keep building our technology and infrastructure, to deliver ever more impressive next-generation games, to expand our team and to develop several projects simultaneously.

As a result of the deal, NetEase said that Quantic Dream will continue to operate as an independent entity out of France.


NetEase’s recent moves to open its first U.S. studio reflects the growing ambitions of Chinese gaming firms to build a physical presence overseas, transitioning from an era of funding and licensing from their foreign peers.

Buoyed by money made from two decades of wild growth until the recent industry clampdown, China’s gaming giants have been acquiring shares of or buying foreign studios for years.

Tencent famously built a massive portfolio by scooping up stakes in some of the world’s most prominent gaming studios, including Supercell, Riot, Activision Blizzard, Epic Games and Roblox. Under the helm of Simon Zhu, NetEase’s president of global investment and partnerships, the company seems to be playing some aggressive catchup.

NetEase is no stranger to working with foreign peers. The firm’s tie-up with Activision Blizzard dates back to 2008 when it became the publisher of StarCraft in China. It has subsequently published other Activision franchises like World of Warcraft in the world’s largest gaming market and had plans to make a mobile version of the popular multiplayer online role-playing game before a recent fallout.

With its buyout of Quantic Dream, it remains to be seen whether NetEase will extend its in-house presence to Europe as it did with the U.S., where it now has an on-the-ground development and publishing team. Tencent has already expanded by opening a handful of overseas branches for its lucrative studios TiMi and Lightspeed.

More TechCrunch

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

10 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

12 hours ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise

X, formerly Twitter, turned TweetDeck into X Pro and pushed it behind a paywall. But there is a new column-based social media tool in town, and it’s from Instagram Threads.…

Meta Threads is testing pinned columns on the web, similar to the old TweetDeck

As part of 2024’s Accessibility Awareness Day, Google is showing off some updates to Android that should be useful to folks with mobility or vision impairments. Project Gameface allows gamers…

Google expands hands-free and eyes-free interfaces on Android