Renowned Chinese game publisher Perfect World, who is behind the distribution and online promotion for DOTA 2 in the region (among publishing a ton of online games like Neverwinter Online and Star Trek Online), has its sights on buying game developer Digital Extremes.
The document outlining the proposed acquisition states that the companies ‘entered into a non-binding term sheet’, to which Digital Extremes agreed to the proposed investment. The game developers are not allowed to solicit alternate offers for 40 days. This acquisition is a joint venture between Perfect World and Chinese chicken meat products supplier Sumpo Food Holdings.
For those not in the know, Digital Extremes is a games developer known for a free-to-play online shooter called Warframe. The company previously did games such as The Darkness 2 and the multiplayer component of BioShock 2. Would this turn of events sour Warframe’s current free-to-play structure?
It’s possible. According to a Warframe thread on the Perfect World acquisition, user ‘wendiGhoul’ claims that any game company bought by Perfect World will have to shift development away from new gameplay content, and will instead ask developers to focus on in-game lockboxes and lottery systems of getting in-game items and rewards.
An official forum post by Warframe creative director Steve Sinclair said that despite the buyout, the game’s future design will still be up to Digital Extremes. “For legal reasons, we can’t disclose specifics, but if you know the history of Warframe you’d know that we are intent on having Warframe’s design remain in the hands of Digital Extremes. Yes, opportunities will arise for us but the game itself is and will remain a labour of love for us.”
Given DOTA 2’s success and highborn status in China, thanks to Perfect World, maybe this is not a bad deal for Digital Extremes, provided that creative control is not tampered with for the sake of unnecessary profit and gain. We tried out Warframe on both PS4 and PC. It’s a well-made and well-tailored third-person shooter emphasising on teamwork and uses the F2P model well. This is something that the Asia market can really get behind.
Since March 2014, the creators claimed that the game is doing alright with over 7 million registered players and is one of the top five most-played F2P games on digital service Steam. If Perfect World were to expand the game in China, that could be a big milestone for the company as its audience numbers can potentially double or triple.