Microsoft and NetEase have agreed to a partnership that will finally bring the massively popular Minecraft to China, according to a press release.
A five-year exclusive agreement has been struck between the companies to license Minecraft's PC and mobile editions to an affiliate of NetEase operating in mainland China.
Mojang, the developer of Minecraft, which Microsoft acquired in September 2014 for $2.5 billion, will be required to create a version of the title specifically for the Chinese market though, and it is that version that will be released in the partnership with NetEase.
Minecraft currently has more than 100 million registered players, making it a global cultural phenomenon. Why then did it have to take a Microsoft-NetEase deal to bring the game into China when Microsoft has a campus in Shanghai? And why only now, after several years since the game's official launch in 2011?
The reason for the delay: the roadblocks that the Chinese government has placed in front of Western software developers who would attempt to penetrate the Chinese market.
Before a game is released in China, publishers are first required to obtain six different permits, with most of them unable to be acquired by foreign companies. This is why Microsoft had to tap into an agreement with NetEase, which operates in China and handles Chinese publishing duties for another major video game maker, Blizzard.
"We'll always embrace opportunities to bring Minecraft to new players around the world, widening our community, and giving us a new perspective on our game," said Mojang CEO Jonas Martensson, who added that the company is looking forward to welcoming Chinese gamers to the world of Minecraft.
There was no indication on the value of the agreement between Microsoft and NetEase, and there is also no stated time frame on when the game will be released in China. For Chinese gamers though, the news that Minecraft is finally coming to their country is already a great one, despite having to wait a little bit more.