Grasshopper Manufacture, the studio behind games like No More Heroes III, Let It Die, and Killer is Dead, announced on Twitter last night that the Suda 51-lead developer has been acquired by Chinese tech company NetEase.
The announcement came in the form of several tweets of varying levels of PR, but Goichi Suda (get it, Suda 5-1?) himself posted a blog on their site to explain their reasoning.
“NetEase Games understands the strengths of Grasshopper Manufacture Inc. and is willing to support us, and is an extremely reliable partner,” Suda writes. “NetEase Games will be mainly responsible for advising on our business planning activities and providing sufficient funding for game development. We will be responsible for the creativity and production of games to ensure that we are able to continue to maintain the consistent ‘Grasshopper Manufacture flavor’ and game quality for which we are known.”
In 2013, Grasshopper was acquired by GungHo Online Entertainment, a Japanese publisher known primarily for mobile and service games like Puzzle & Dragon. This acquisition produced Let It Die, which was intended to be a live-service game, but ultimately fizzled out, leading to a managerial— but not financial — split between GungHo and Grasshopper in 2018. Suda put himself back at the head of the company, leading to this NetEase acquisition now.
It’s yet another step into traditional console development for NetEase, already one of the world’s biggest technology companies with a massive portfolio of mobile titles under their belt. The conglomerate has invested heavily into studios like Bungie and Quantic Dream and recently poached Sega Creative Lead and Yakuza patriarch Toshihiro Nagoshi to develop new games for them. Combined with the Grasshopper acquisition, it is starting to paint a picture of how NetEase wants to approach this new frontier for the internet technology company: go slowly with diverse products.
It’s not a bad call. Less risk, more reward, and they’re investing in developers with proven track records in sales success, creative success, or both.