Netease has recently launched the official Chinese version of Marvel’s comic app, Marvel Unlimited, furthering the company’s existing partnership with the Disney subsidiary, media outlet 36Kr reported.
Why it matters: The highly limited selection of hard copy comic books widely available in China means that comic fans have grown accustomed to reading comics online, prompting domestic comic artists to flock to online comic platforms and tech companies such as Tencent and Bilibili to vie for a share of the market.
- In August, Tencent invested $125 million in comic platform Kuaikan Manhua, one of the largest comic platforms in China with more than 40 million monthly active users.
- Video sharing site Bilibili, which became known for its anime, comic, and games (ACG) content, has also been licensing comics aggressively in an effort to seize the market.
- Bilibili acquired Netease Comics, along with some of its licensed comics, in December 2018, which it folded into its operations.
Details: The Netease version of Marvel Unlimited currently provides free access to a small library of Marvel comics that have been translated into simplified Chinese.
- The free access is a short-term offering and will be replaced by an RMB 18 (around $2.60) monthly membership, though Netease did not specify a timeline. The international version of Marvel Unlimited charges a monthly fee of $9.99 for access to all Marvel comics.
- Netease promises to update the app’s comic library daily following the rollout of the membership program.
- The app was exclusively licensed to Netease by Marvel Entertainment.
- Netease’s Marvel Unlimited features a “zoom in” mode that automatically pivots to a section of the comic in reading order as users swipe.
- A number of users have complained about the absence of comics for certain Marvel characters and missing issues in a series.
- Netease could not be immediately reached for comment.
Context: Netease announced its partnership with Marvel in May 2019.
- The partnership includes distributing mobile game “Marvel: Contest of Champions” in China, as well as co-developing a mobile multiplayer online battle arena title “Marvel Super War.”
- Marvel Super War was launched in overseas markets in December 2019.