Major Chinese gaming companies Tencent and NetEase partnered with Microsoft’s gaming department to bring some of their games to Microsoft’s gaming subscription service Xbox Game Pass, which Microsoft announced at a Monday showcase event.

Why it matters: Chinese developers like Tencent and NetEase are facing an economic slowdown and a tightened regulatory environment in their home market. The partnerships with Microsoft, home to dominant global gaming platforms and a vast userbase, can broaden the appeals of Chinese-developed games and Xbox’s service.

  • The partnership is a good opportunity for NetEase to launch its PUBG-like title Naraka: Bladepoint on a console platform, a format that is vital in the overseas markets.
  • Microsoft will be able to give players access to popular titles from Tencent and NetEase, making Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass a more attractive investment for gamers.

Details: The partnerships will bring titles from Tencent’s US-based developer Riot Games and NetEase’s trending PUBG-like title Naraka: Bladepoint to Microsoft’s gaming subscription service, Xbox Game Pass.

  • Each of Riot Games’ five titles, League of Legends, Wild Rift, Legends of Runeterra, Valorant, and TeamFight Tactics, will be available through the subscription service. For instance, subscribers can now unlock all characters in League of Legends and Wild Rift for free. Some other bonus paid content will be free for subscribers later this year. 
  • NetEase’s Naraka: Bladepoint, which has already sold 10 million copies (in Chinese) globally on desktop platforms, will be free to Xbox Game Pass subscribers. The title will premiere on Xbox on June 23 before any other console platform. NetEase plans to launch the game on Xbox rival PlayStation at a later date.

Context: Microsoft is making a push to promote its game pass subscription service, in a similar way to the likes of Spotify and Netflix, with users paying a flat monthly fee for access to a gaming library.

  • Launched in 2017, Xbox Game Pass had over 25 million subscribers this year, as Microsoft revealed in a January 18 press release.
  • Most AAA-level game titles cost around$39 to $49. Xbox Game Pass offers a variety of games for a monthly subscription fee of $9.99, which is significantly different from the traditional games’ buy-to-play business model.
  • Apple and Sony have also launched their subscription services, Apple Arcade in 2019 and PlayStation Plus this year.
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Ward Zhou

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a] or Twitter @zhounanyu.