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NetEase has agreed to buy Grasshopper Manufacture, the maker of games such No More Heroes, Killer7, and Lollipop Chainsaw.
China’s NetEase has been steadily expanding through investments, acquisitions, and publishing deals. And now it will get a premier Japanese game studio, which celebrated its 23rd anniversary in March.
Goichi Suda (also known as Suda51) started Grasshopper Manufacture in 1998 in Tokyo, and he named the company after a song by the British band Ride, which he listened to over and over while starting the company.
In 2005, the company made Killer7, a game about a team of elite assassins, for the GameCube and PlayStation 2. That put the company on the map as a global developer. It also made Contact for the Nintendo DS, No More Heroes and No More Heroes 2 for the Wii, and Shadows of the Damned.
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In 2013, GungHo Online Entertainment acquired Grasshopper Manufacture and released Let It Die. But in 2018, the companies split apart. Grasshopper Manufacture launched No More Heroes III for the Switch this year.
“As we all know, NetEase Games has developed many excellent games in the past, and I have long been aware of NetEase’s creative capabilities,” said Suda, in a press release. “When talking with NetEase about ‘developing more unique console games together,’ we resonated. After a lot of thoughts, we’ve unanimously decided to get together in the long term through deeper cooperation to create more good content for gamers.”
“NetEase Games understands the strengths of Grasshopper Manufacture and is willing to support us, and is an extremely reliable partner,” Suda said. “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.”
He noted NetEase has thousands of artists and technical experts in terms of game art and quality assurance that could help Grasshopper, which will target making three high-quality games in the next decade. Suda said the team is hiring.
“NetEase Games is a company of passionate gamers, and many of them are fans of Grasshopper Manufacture. Mr. Suda’s games have unique characteristics,” NetEase said. “They manifest his design philosophy and artistic pursuit in every aspect – from concept to content. Grasshopper Manufacture Inc. has also integrated styles and elements from various media formats, such as film noir, detective fiction, punk rock, psychedelic electronica, cyberpunk, and so on.”