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NetEase buys a minority stake in Jumpship

New studio from ex-Playdead CEO and film animator Chris Olsen will pour money into developing Somerville and expanding its team

NetEase has acquired a minority stake in Jumpship, the UK-based developer co-founded by former Playdead CEO Dino Patti.

The value of the deal was not disclosed, but Patti said that Jumpship would maintain its "full independence" as it continues work on its enigmatic debut project, Somerville.

"For me, NetEase seems like a perfect match," Pattis said in a statement released today. "It's been natural for us to focus on Europe and North America, so we're excited to get a very strong partner in China."

Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz earlier this week, Patti said that releasing games in the Chinese market - among other Asian territories - has been a longstanding goal, "even when I was CEO in Playdead."

"We have a certain vision that, if fulfilled, should go beyond cultures... Adding China would be a huge deal in terms of sheer reach"

"We have a certain vision with Jumpship and Somerville that, if fulfilled, should go beyond cultures and talk to us as human beings," Patti said. "Adding China would obviously be a huge deal in terms of sheer reach."

And having a partner like NetEase is necessary in finding success in China, Patti added. All of the money earned from selling the minority stake will be invested into the development of Somerville and the expansion of Jumpship's team.

The studio, which is based in Guildford, currently employs six people, and expects to double in size over the next year. It may need to grow even more before Somerville is finished, Patti said, but Jumpship's strategy is to find the right talent.

"People sadly don't fit perfectly into boxes," he added, "so this depends a lot on the talent we manage to attract."

Jumpship was founded in June 2017 as a collaboration between Patti and the feature-film animator Chris Olsen, who had been working on Somerville as a side-project since 2014 and documenting its development online.

Described as "a sci-fi action adventure that chronicles the lives of key individuals in the wake of a global catastrophe," Olsen's proof-of-concept trailer and playable prototype was enough to grab Patti's interest. Jumpship was formed when Olsen returned to the UK after working in Sydney, Australia.

"Somerville has definitely grown in scale since the original conception by Chris Olsen," Patti said. "But we also spent a lot of resources this first year-and-a-half to de-risk and develop the concept to a healthy state, where it's a realistic scope while still being very exciting and true to the original idea."

In a separate statement, Olsen said he has been, "delighted with the early, behind closed doors feedback... It's crucial to me that we're creating something that helps expand the definition of games and draws people in from outside the medium. We're looking forward to collaborating with people who share these fundamental ambitions."

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