Grasshopper Manufacture, developer of the No More Heroes series, has been acquired by NetEase Games. Originally owned by GungHo Online Entertainment, the equity transfer agreement between the companies took place on May 31st this year. In a recent statement, Grasshopper CEO Goichi Suda said, “For the past 23 years, our team of creators with various backgrounds and personalities have presented a variety of games to gamers.
“We are now given a unique opportunity to rethink the game development and organization structure of Grasshopper Manufacture Inc. moving forward. While understanding our own advantages and unique position, we were presented with new possibilities in game creation.” The developer has “long been aware” of NetEase’s “creative capabilities.” “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.”
Grasshopper Manufacture says it will continue to be responsible for its own creativity and game production. NetEase, meanwhile, will be advising the developer’s business planning activities, providing funding for its titles (including three “even higher quality ‘Grasshopper Manufacture Games'” in the next ten years) and support in the form of game art, tech and quality assurance.
NetEase Games also provided a statement, praising the “unique characteristics” of Suda’s games and how the studio’s developers “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. Additionally, Grasshopper Manufacture Inc. is one of a kind in terms of mood setting, movement design, and narrative rhythm design.
“Their strong passion for creativity, which has continued for decades, is extremely admirable. NetEase is honored to be the companion of Mr. Suda and Grasshopper Manufacture Inc. on this new journey into the future. We hope to give the studio creative freedom and sufficient resource support in order to empower said studio to create even more sensational works for gamers worldwide.” NetEase further provided an invitation to game creators in Japan and the world, hoping to “empower more outstanding creators and continuously create good games.”
Suda has recently commented on the studio having five games in production and that the three titles it plans to release in the next decade will be new IPs. Pre-production has already begun on the first title and while they won’t be “full-on AAA titles”, Suda stated that they may be closer to AA-scale games (though the core team will remain “relatively compact”). Stay tuned for more details in the coming months and years.