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Baidu moves into online games
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Baidu.com Inc yesterday outlined its moves to penetrate the online game sector in China.

The country's No. 1 Internet search engine provider has already announced expansion into the instant messaging and online auction business.

Through cooperation with five game operators, including Shanda Entertainment, Baidu launched its game site.

It is initially offering six browser games: Zongheng Tianxia, Tiankong Zuo'an, Fangbianmian Sanguo, Luanwu Chunqiu, Empire, and XBA Manager, which are free.

"The games are Web-based, therefore they don't require high-standard computers," Baidu said in a statement. "The games on Baidu's platform are green and healthy, without too much blood."

Zongheng Tianxia was developed in conjunction with Shanda, and Tiankong Zuo'an was developed with Beijing-based developer Huancheng Interactive. The other four games are operated in partnership with Beijing Xin Yu Brothers Internet Technology, operator of 51wan.com. Each game has a dedicated section.

China's online game market revenue was 12.8 billion yuan (US$1.83 billion) in 2007, and the figure will hit 40.1 billion yuan in 2011, according to Analysys International, a Beijing-based IT consulting firm.

It's another move for Baidu to become a more diversified firm, industry insiders said.

Baidu's new services aim to improve user loyalty and profitability of the company's core search business, according to Robin Li, Baidu chief executive and chairman.

Baidu Hi, its new instant message tool, has been in public testing, and Baidu's auction Website will debut this year, Li said.

Baidu, seeking to be different from Google, aims to be an online community offering other functions besides its core search advertising business, US-based investment bank Piper Jaffray said.

(Shanghai Daily April 23, 2008)

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