China is the world's largest market for Internet users by far (what market isn't the largest in China nowadays). Online game sales in China rose just over 30 percent to 27 billion Yuan last year, according to Shanghai-based IResearch.
NetEase is China's third-largest online games provider, soon to be second according to many analysts. NetEase provides games such as "Heroes of Tang Dynasty", a growing interest in many other Asian countries, and possibly soon in the West.
What's astonishing is the percentage of Western online games in China's market. For example, World of Warcraft accounted for almost 30 percent of NetEases's sales earlier this year, marketing the largest percentage by far for any single game.
American and Chinese game companies are working closer together than ever before. It was announced earlier this year that NetEase will be partnering with Microsoft in MSN's China operation, investing heavily in China's online game industry.
Microsoft wants to continue to push PC gaming, just as much as it has with console gaming in recent years. "The PC isn't dead" has been heard many times from them. Perhaps investing in China's PC dominated industry, is a step in this direction.
NetEase reference: http://www.netease.net/