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Chinese online game company NetEase eyes US expansion

The company that brings Blizzard's online games to China is now aiming to bring its own games to the Western market, backed by its billionaire chairman.

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NetEase

Chinese Internet and online game company NetEase plans to expand into the Western market this year, formally announcing that it will establish operations in California and planned releases of games later in 2015.

The new Western arm of NetEase is looking to bring its signature mobile games into the Western market. One of the first products to make its debut in the West, with the working title Speedy Ninja, will see their initial release mid-2015. The game is expected to launch on iOS first.

NetEase's exploration into the Western market is the latest in a growing trend of Chinese Internet companies launching stateside. Chinese Internet giants like e-commerce company Alibaba and web service company Baidu both established a US presence as early as the first half of 2014.

While NetEase has built a reputation in its home country by managing US-based game developer Blizzard's online games -- including popular online games World of Warcraft and Hearthstone -- in China, its own offerings have yet to make a mark on Western audiences.

The venture is led by NetEase General Manager David Ting, who formerly served as chief technology officer for Android gaming console OUYA, general manager of IGN eSports, and head of online publishing at Blizzard.

"With a $15 billion market cap, NetEase has a strong foundation of successes in Asian markets made possible by a wealth of design and engineering talent," Ting said. "We are building the games we want to play and are excited to launch them into global markets."

NetEase is also well-funded, backed by chairman William Ding, currently ranked 19th on the Forbes' China Rich List with a net worth of approximately $4.9 billion as of late 2014.