The9, a Chinese online game operator, finalized its equity
investment from Electronic Arts Inc., in Shanghai yesterday. In
addition, the two partners announced a licensing agreement that
grants The9 exclusive rights to publish EA Sports' FIFA
Online on the Chinese mainland.
The equity investment, worth around US$167 million, will give EA
a 15 percent stake in The9. The agreement is part of EA's long-term
strategy to build up its Asia online competitiveness by teaming up
with established regional operators, and fits in with The9's plan
to increase its gaming library on the Chinese market.
EA Sports FIFA is a major international sports
franchise for EA and has received widespread acclaim in Asia.
Last year, EA and Seoul-based Neowiz partnered to launch EA Sports
FIFA Online in Korea. It rapidly became one of Korea's
most popular games with over 4.4 million registered subscribers,
according to EA's company data.
"EA will be a strong partner for us in the rapidly expanding
online game market in China." said Zhu Jun, Chairman and CEO of
The9. "We are seeing strong interest in online sports games in
China with 2008 Beijing Olympics around the corner as well as the
FIFA World Cup in 2010, and FIFA Online is set to be a top
favorite in the Chinese market."
Hubert Larenaudie, President of EA Asia Online, praised the move
by saying, "This is another significant step in EA's strategy to
build an online presence in Asia. The9's proven expertise will be a
tremendous advantage in bringing FIFA Online to a growing
market and we look forward to partnering with them to bring the
best online football gaming experience to millions of Chinese
gamers and football fans. "
The9 Ltd. is a leading online game operator in China, focusing
its activities mainly on running and developing high-quality games
for the Chinese online games market. It is also China's lead
operative of MMORPGs, with its library including MU
Online, World of Warcraft, Soul of The Ultimate
Nation, all good money-spinners. It also possesses exclusive
licenses to host additional MMORPGs and advanced casual games.
Another exciting project is its work on developing the a 3D fantasy
MMORPG game, Fantasy Melody Online.
Yesterday, The9 also published its agreement with another big
game company, G10 Entertainment Korea Corp, to operate Audition
2, an advanced casual dancing online game, on the Chinese
mainland through a wholly-owned subsidiary. The agreement will also
give the gaming heavyweight exclusive first refusal to the license
for Audition 3 and two more of G10's latest online
(China.org.cn May 22, 2007)