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New games pay off for Shanda's bottom line
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Chinese online game operator Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd posted a 22-percent increase in fourth-quarter earnings as it attracted more players, new titles and fresh content.

Net income was 292.6 million yuan (US$40.1 million), or 3.98 yuan per American depositary receipt, compared to 3.32 yuan a year ago. Revenues rose 52 percent from a year ago to 714.2 million yuan, Shanghai-based Shanda said yesterday.

The growth in the quarter was mainly driven by Shanda's expansion packs for its existing games like the Legend of Mir II and a new title, World Hegemony, a multi-player web game based on the Three Kingdoms period in ancient China.

"Our MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game) business continued to post impressive results and we have seen solid improvement in expanding the active paying user base," said Chen Tianqiao, chairman and chief executive officer of Shanda, the nation's largest online game operator.

Active players

Despite the recent heavy snowstorms across China that caused massive blackouts, Chen expected that its influence will be limited and Shanda's first-quarter revenue will be more than US$100 million, although some players might not be able to play their games for a while.

There were 3.47 million active paying accounts for MMORPGs in the fourth quarter, compared to 2.29 million a year ago, increasing 13 percent from the third quarter.

Monthly average revenue per user was 57.8 yuan, a slight increase from 55.1 yuan a year ago, but a 3.1-percent decrease from the previous quarter.

Shanda plans to add one MMORPG and two casual games in the first half. One emphasis this year will be sports-related games in connection with the upcoming Olympics, company officials said in a conference call yesterday.

In total it has 20 games in the pipeline. Eight are MMORPGs, of which half will be licensed titles while the rest will be developed in-house. Officials said they have no plans to greatly increase staff.

(Shanghai Daily, February 27, 2008)

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