Microsoft's Minecraft is heading to China

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

Microsoft on Friday 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 $2.5 billion in 2014 to buy Mojang, “Minecraft’s” Swedish developer. The Redmond 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, and highlighting the ways “Minecraft” can tie in with other Microsoft technology.

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The China deal is the latest step by Microsoft into a massive consumer market that has proved difficult for U.S. 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 mainland 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.

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