Alibaba has formally announced that it will enter the video games industry with the formation of a new business group.
The company is already linked to several gaming ventures, primarily in the esports and mobile markets, but as yet does not have an official presence. This changes with the acquisition of online gaming firm EJoy, according to China Daily.
EJoy was formed in 2011 by former NetEase COO Zhan Zhonghui. He will join Alibaba's new gaming unit along with two fellow employees: Chen Wei'an, who was EJoy's product operation manager for World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2, and Wu Yunyang, who led development on titles such as Journey to the West 2 and Fantasy Westward Journey.
Alibaba plans to use the new gaming group to develop its own titles, leveraging the resources of other Alibaba platforms such as online videos and movies to support its growth.
China Daily notes that Alibaba founder Jack Ma has previously said the company "would rather starve to death than live on games", and that he refused to invest a single penny into the industry - but this is a stance that has changed greatly over the past few years.
Back in 2014, it invested $120m into mobile games firm Kabam, followed by $10m in crowdfunded console Ouya a year later. Last year, invested heavily in the Chinese eSports scene by supporting 1,200 competitive gaming events.
Earlier this year, Alibaba invested $145m in a new global network for mobile games, collaborating with four other international companies.