29/04/2021   Chundi Zhang
Perfect World is strengthening its IP strategy as 24 titles are unveiled at annual conference

China-based games developer and publisher Perfect World held the Games Strategy Press Conference in Beijing on April 13, where a new pipeline of 24 games was announced, including: titles based on its own flagship IP, titles created in collaboration with other companies' IP, and totally new products with trendy elements. Perfect World claimed that more than 95% of the games are being developed in-house.

Established in 2004, Perfect World is a veteran Chinese games company with expertise in massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). It is currently the fourth largest games company in China by market cap, behind Tencent, NetEase and 37 Interactive Entertainment. In China, Perfect World is also operating CS: GO, Dota 2 and the Chinese version of Steam in partnership with Valve. 

IP-focused games strategy has potential to benefit the company's broader vision

Perfect World sees its long-established IP as a valuable asset that is lower-risk when exploring possibilities for new titles. Five games based on two of its flagship IPs, Perfect World and Jade Dynasty, were showcased at this conference. Among them, the open-world action role-playing game (ARPG) title for console and PC, Perfect New World, was given a more prominent position. The company claims that this game is developed to triple-A standards with a budget of 300 million RMB ($45m). The console-oriented game is also being released for the global market and will represent a serious attempt to expand the company's international reach.

Perfect World is also pouring its resources into proven, popular IP, most of which have been adapted from/to novels, TV series or films. There are five titles being developed in this respect, with styles mainly relating to martial arts and Western fantasy. Given that Perfect World also has a strong portfolio in the film and television production industry, these new games can exploit synergy with the company's overall content strategy.

Perfect World announced more diverse games to explore burgeoning segments, including themes such as anime, female-oriented, sci-fi, steampunk and narrative games. There are high expectations for Tower of Fantasy given its anime, sci-fi and open-world setting, and Perfect World is now focusing on optimisation through feedback from the beta - a new round of open testing will be launched after the conference. Although the game's similarities with Genshin Impact in art style has sparked discussion among players, the company reiterated that the game is based on "original soft sci-fi IP". Several mobile games based on Japanese IP such as One-Punch Man, Million Arthur, and Persona were also announced. Other partnerships include mobile games adaptations of Chinese animation IP from Coloroom Pictures and Bilibili. No specific release dates have been announced for most of these projects.

Comments

In its new games pipeline, Perfect World is exploring themes that it has not touched before, demonstrating the company's deepening understanding of player needs and proving that it is hoping to capitalize on the industry-wide growth brought by the pandemic.

Perfect World's strategy to keep R&D in-house on the one hand ensures the continuity of its IP, but on the other hand may pose a challenge in terms of resource allocation, especially when considering the scale of the new games pipeline and the fact that Perfect World's R&D expenditure is less significant compared to its market rivals.

Although these new themes being explored are very attractive to young gamers, there are also a large number of competing products in the market. Perfect World needs to cater to each user group while differentiating its products to avoid simply replicating existing offerings. This is especially true where other gaming giants are also investing heavily in those areas, and where market influence is being concentrated in the largest companies due to stricter control on game approvals in the country.


Table: Perfect World's new games pipeline announced at the annual conference

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