CrossFire is China’s biggest Free-to-Play video game in history, helping publisher Tencent Games to record earnings every year. CrossFire also helped turned South Korea developer Smilegate into a major studio, right from the brink of closure (if the game failed in China). Development for CrossFire 2 started in 2013, and today, The9 announced it has signed the publishing rights for China.
Tencent Games did not sign the game, though they did announced Lost Ark recently as a sign of good relations with Smilegate. According to reports, The9 will pay Smilegate an upfront payment of USD 50 million and additional payments totaling USD 450 million based on certain development and operation milestones, as well as royalty payments based on future sales. Crazy money indeed.
It is important to note that the deal for CrossFire 2 was technically signed by Oriental Shiny Star Limited (“JVC”), which is majority-owned by System Link Corporation Limited, a 50-50 joint venture formed by The9 and Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Ltd.. Qihoo 360 is a mega IT company in its own rights on a global scale. These 2 companies are also working together to revive Firefall in China.