A scene from Minecraft.

China version of Minecraft video game in works under Microsoft-NetEase deal

Software giant announces deal with Chinese online services company to develop and sell versions of the world-building video game tailored for the Chinese market

Minecraft, the popular, Microsoft-owned, world-building video game, is heading to China.

Microsoft has announced a deal with NetEase, a Chinese online services company, to develop and sell mobile and personal computer versions of Minecraft tailored for the Chinese market.

The company didn’t announce a release date for the games. Microsoft has a separate deal with China’s BesTV to distribute a version of Minecraft for the Xbox video game console.

Microsoft spent US$2.5 billion in 2014 to buy Mojang, Minecraft’s Swedish developer. The company has since tried to strike a balance between leaving the developers alone to manage their hit, which is among the best-selling video games of all time, and highlighting the ways Minecraft can tie in with other Microsoft technology.

A scene from Minecraft.

The China deal is the latest step by Microsoft into a massive consumer market that has proven difficult for US technology companies to navigate amid tight state controls over the economy, censorship and widespread piracy.

Chinese regulators sometimes prohibit companies or products from entering the domestic market without a local partner.

Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing network is operated in China by Chinese Internet company 21Vianet. As part of the effort to sell its new Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft partnered with Chinese search giant Baidu.