Rebel Wolves, the new studio formed by The Witcher 3 game director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz earlier this year, has secured an undisclosed strategic investment from NetEase Games.
The deal will see NetEase become a shareholder in Rebel Wolves, with studio co-founder and CEO Tomaszkiewicz describing the investment as "the last missing piece needed to go full throttle."
Speaking to Game Developer about what that means in a more practical sense, Tomaszkiewicz said that prior to the NetEase investment the studio had been operating more like a startup while it created a framework and foundation for its debut title, but will now be able to scale-up with confidence.
"The investment from NetEase is a part of our long-term strategy and it secures the Team and the project financially," said Tomaszkiewicz. "In these times (on so many levels), having the financial security and backing of an innovative global player does wonders for our confidence and peace of mind. It also lets us put those prepared plans into motion with maximum efficiency.
Having secured funding from such a high-profile partner, we asked Tomaszkiewicz what advice he might give to other developers seeking investment from companies like NetEase. Although it's difficult to provide pointers that can be applied universally, Tomaszkiewicz believes that one overlooked aspect of securing funding is the quality of the pitch itself.
"There are stories of games funded based on a tweet or a napkin drawing, but it’s like winning the lottery. In most cases, a pitch will have to go through phases and/or the desks of many people who are used to reviewing countless such proposals," he continued.
"Making the presentation, GIF, artwork or rip-o-matic video stand out is worth the effort. Whatever makes your core idea easier to grasp, whatever makes the pitch more memorable and the team more professional by association, will help. Decision makers come from vastly different cultures and backgrounds. Not all of them are equally adept at extrapolating a rudimentary sketch into high-definition animations."
NetEase, meanwhile, has been splashing the cash in recent months. The company has invested in studios such as Astrid Entertainment and Something Wicked and completing notable acquisitions, including the purchase of Detroit: Become Human developer Quantic Dream.
Offering his thoughts on what makes NetEase such an alluring investment partner, Tomaszkiewicz said the Chinese company has been supportive of the team's values but will also allow it to remain creatively independent.
"From the very beginning, the NetEase team has been receptive to our vision of a better, sustainable model of developing games, with the team’s welfare and the game’s quality as key values. In the course of many conversations on multiple levels, we’ve discovered more synergies and shared views," continued Tomaszkiewicz.
"Crucially for us, NetEase is happy to partner with Rebel Wolves as a creatively independent and team-managed studio. The mutual respect and trust built on both sides is a promising first chapter of an exciting cooperation."