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The9 And Pepsi Launch New Online Game
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One of the leading online game operators in China -- The9 and world leading drink giant PepsiCo announced today their joint promotion of a new online game across China's Internet cafés. A publicist said this would be another "cross-industry cooperation" breakthrough for Chinese online gaming industry.

Guild Wars (GW), released on April 28, 2005, is a grand online game published by South Korea's NCsoft Corporation and produced by the US' ArenaNet. The9 operates the game in China, and will start close beta testing in China on November 29.

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The cooperation between The9 and Pepsi is based on mutual understanding of the game's appeal to the generation of the new online game player. With the policy of "creating a dreaming platform for those game players", the two companies will display their own advantages and experiences together as both are world-beaters in their industry.

"It's our great honor to collaborate with PepsiCo on GW," said Zhu Jun, the CEO of The9. "GW presents the sprite of 'Fight for Fame' which is a perfect partner for PepsiCo's slogan 'Dare for More'. There are many common points between both. We believe that the collaboration will give a platform for all players to realize their dreams, and to promote them on the center of the world stage."

But since The9 is also the exclusive operator of another famous game World Of Warcraft in China, Pepsi's greatest rival Coca Cola has already cooperated with The9 on advert exchanges (including printing character images of the World Of Warcraft on Coke's drink cans, promoting the game in Coke's commercials, etc.) from last year, setting a great example for those to follow.

Sources at Pepsi told China.org.cn several days ago that they have already trained staff for the cooperation project with The9, but Zhao Yurun, an official of The9 couldn't confirm the story at that time. Word spread that The9's delay of the official announcement from November 12 to 19, and then to today was either due to Coke's pressure or their desire to replace Pepsi.

When asked if this cooperation would influence the relationship between Coke and The9, a publicist denied it. "I don't think so. The cooperation with Pepsi will just focus on the Internet café channels promotion," Vivian Wang, The9's public relation manager, told China.org.cn today.

"We will consider putting Pepsi into the game itself for mutual promotion in the future, just like what we did with Coca Cola. However now, it's only in Internet cafés," she added.

Pepsi has attempted several cooperation campaigns in the online game industry but was outdistanced by Coke. The new cooperation may indicate another catch-up effort.

"Net gaming is another important area for PepsiCo beside music and sports. Pepsi highly bank on The9's operation ability and fairly strong player community. We believe the collaboration on GW will unite PepsiCo with young generation in China tighter, and leverage the two brands to a new level," said Richard Lee, the vice president of Marketing, PepsiCo. 

As the great piece of "massively multiplayer online role-playing game" (MMORPG), which subverts traditional net games, GW successfully unites the advantages of both role playing games and competitive ones together. It has been well received by both critics and players. It won several awards including IGN's Best PC RPG and Gamespy's MMORPG of the Year awards in 2005, and Computer Games Magazine's Best MMO Debut and Best Technology awards in 2006. In June, ArenaNet announced that they had sold 2 million copies of the game.

There will be over 10,000 "Pepsi-GW" Internet cafés in China, commencing from GW's beta testing to its official business operation, Wang said. Furthermore, they will create entire ad packages and campaigns such as "GW China National Tournament", which will provide the opportunity for tens of thousands of China Guilds to capture the national title or even the global ones, in the name of "GW Team China ".

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Zhang Rui, November 24, 2006)

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