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NetEase gets rights to WoW

BLIZZARD Entertainment Inc has licensed Inc as its Chinese mainland operation partner of the game, World of WarCraft, for three years from June when Blizzard's current license agreement with The9 Ltd expires.

WoW, a massive multi-player online role-playing game with more than 100 million players in China, is one of the world's most popular online games.

The loss of the WoW business will hit the fortunes of Nasdaq-listed The9 as it generates 90 percent of its revenue from the online game. "The9 can't recover from the license loss in a short period as it heavily depended on WoW for four years," said Zhao Xufeng, an analyst at iResearch Inc.

The9 has signed with United States-based Electronic Arts to introduce FIFA, a soccer game, into China.

Shanghai-based The9 declined to comment on the issue yesterday.

Nasdaq-listed NetEase, said it would continue to charge users by time, without providing details.

"By combining Blizzard Entertainment's expertise in developing world-class games with NetEase's strength in online-game operations in China, I am confident that we will be able to deliver the best gaming experience in the world to our players," William Ding, CEO of NetEase, said in a statement.

Players of WoW, however, were worried if the transition would be smooth and when a new expansion package would be available in China, which has already been delayed once previously.



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