Games Company Gets An Oscar Nod: Perfect World Honored At The Academy Awards
When you think of gaming, you think of games devices, consoles, platforms like Steam. But you probably don’t think of the Oscars. Nevertheless, the Academy Awards and the gaming industry collided during the ceremony. This past Sunday, when Chinese gaming company Perfect World. The developer of PC MMORPGs, received Oscars, alongside co-producer Universal Pictures, for the films Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour.
The latter film, a biopic, tells the story of Winston Churchill, played here by Gary Oldman (otherwise known for the Harry Potter series of movies, among others). It nabbed the awards for Best Actor, Makeup, and Hairstyling, whereas Phantom Thread was the winner in the category for Best Costume Design.
As for the former film, it is a postwar drama focusing on fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock, played by Daniel Day-Lewis. As well, Victoria & Abdul, another film co-produced by the company, received two nominations for Oscars earlier this year.
The Oscars took place on Sunday night (the 4th) at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. It was the 90th awards ceremony in the history of the Academy Awards.
Perfect World and Universal
Perfect World has been helping Universal by co-funding its films; their contract states that it will help with 50 movies over the course of the next 5 years. To quote a spokesperson: the contract allows Perfect World “to spread our risks to finance 50 films running up to five years.” The deal was sealed in 2016, and will presumably run until 2021.
Perfect World made around 57 million dollars in revenue in 2017. With the gaming business constituting some 86% of that number. It distributes many well-known gaming blockbusters in China, such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2, and is known for having acquired American gaming companies Runic Games and Cryptic Studios.
The company is based in Beijing and is known not as a film production studio, but as a gaming company. It is responsible for hits such as Star Trek Online, Battle of the Immortals, the Ether Saga Odyssey, Torchlight, Neverwinter, and Final Fantasy Awakening. It’s the third-biggest gaming company in China, after Tencent Holding and NetEase, and the biggest gaming company of the century, if one uses revenue as a form of measurement.
It is primarily known as a developer of PC MMORPGs, including Red Cliff and Jade Dynasty. These games were successful in the wake of the release of World of Warcraft in 2004 when many companies were trying to emulate Blizzard’s successful attempts at the genre.
The company’s origins lie in the Beijing Hongen Education and Technology Co., which was founded in 1996. When Michael Chi Yufeng started it to sell educational software to Chinese folks. So that they would learn how to use the PCs (which, at the time, were far from the ubiquitous form of technology that they are today) and learn English. Perfect World Games entered the stock market in 2007, at which point shares began trading on the NASDAQ. Perfect World Pictures was founded in 2008. The gaming division was eventually removed from the stock market, before returning to the A-shares market in full force, now listed alongside Perfect World Pictures. Having merged, the two companies function together in the Chinese stock exchange as simply “Perfect World.”
The role of Perfect World in the Chinese investment market
Perfect World isn’t alone in its position of “technology company” helping intellectual-property companies fund their activities. Other players in the game include Alibaba (known for its online market), Baidu (the social-media platform), and Tencent Holdings (an investment company with holdings in AI and other technologies). In their attempt to dominate the global entertainment industry, these companies have also been creating subscription-based platforms for video streaming. Even American studios in Hollywood have a stake in the game. Except that they fund content related to their IPs—amusement parks, video streaming, and of course video games—rather than investing in entirely new domains.
The company seems to know what it’s doing, judging by the success it has earned thus far. In the words of Clayton Dube, from the US-China Institue. “Perfect World is not making big gambles and is learning how to identify quality projects,” said USC’s Dube. “Learning how to make prestige projects like Darkest Hour or Phantom Thread will be increasingly important as China’s population ages. Audiences grow less enamored over formulaic and special effects films.”
Perfect World: a success story, for the present and future
Perfect World has shown itself to be successful as a video-game developer. With its many beloved PC MMORPGs, but also as a co-producer of films. It’s unknown what the future will hold for the company. Although we can expect it to continue investing in domains related to video games. Other technologies, and/or the film industry more generally.
All this being said, no matter what direction its execs decide to take the company in, we can expect great things. Hence it in the near future since it has done an excellent job in many industries so far. Good job, Perfect World!