NetEase’s mobile MMORPG Justice Online has topped the iOS App Store charts in China.
According to news outlets including Yicai Global, the title has already pulled in approximately $3.6m of revenue on its first day, and had at least 40 million players pre-register before its release. Success is going to be an absolute necessity for the game, especially as estimates of its development budget mark it as at least $139m. The title is based on Chinese martial arts fantasy, or Wuxia, and is set to release globally later in 2023.
According to the news report, NetEase has ambitions for the MMO to operate for at least a decade, and some other news sources such as Technode have indicated the title may prove to be a major contender against big hits such as Genshin Impact (or Honkai: Star Rail) from MiHoYo and Tencent’s major MOBA Honor of Kings.
Romance of the three tech giants
Justice Online will also be reportedly utilising AI technology explored by NetEase to generate dialogue for individual NPCs that allows them to respond to player inputs without preprogrammed replies. Although it’s not yet clear just how effective this implementation is, or whether it enhances the final product, AI evangelists have praised the step as one of the first major implementations of the tech for producing NPC interactions.
MiHoYo themselves have seen Genshin Impact face a challenger of their own design, with Honkai: Star Rail seemingly set to supersede the other free-to-play title as their biggest money spinner. While Tencent’s launch of Honor of Kings overseas in Brazil saw mixed success, with a huge number of sign-ups but not quite cracking the top ten for the market in terms of download or revenue according to some analysts.
Naturally, both Tencent and NetEase have been jostling for positions on our Top 50 Game Makers list, with NetEase taking 2022’s top spot. It remains to be seen just where they’ll place on our list this time around, but it’s certainly going to be a nail biter if the big moves they’re making this year are any indication.