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Shanghai game firms encouraged to innovate

SHANGHAI game firms should pay more attention to innovation and seek opportunities in netbooks and mobile phones, government and industry officials said yesterday.

In 2008, the revenue of Shanghai's online game industry jumped 35.3 percent year-on-year to 8.62 billion yuan (US$1.26 billion), which accounted for half of the country's total game revenue. Leading firms have emerged such as Shanda Entertainment and The9 Ltd.

"The local games industry has been on a fast track recently but local firms still lack popular self-developed game titles," said Jiao Yang, the director of the Shanghai Press & Publication Administration.

The government has set up a fund to support 86 homegrown games, including 21 from Shanghai, Jiao said during a talk to promote China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference (Chinajoy), the country's biggest annual games show.

The9, which previously held the China rights to the online game World of Warcraft, developed by United States games firm Blizzard, said it would launch three to five self-developed titles every year, Chen Xiaowei, The9's president, said during the conference.

"We will become a totally new company with a diversified income and a strong research team," Chen said.

The9's operation agreement with Blizzard for World of Warcraft came to an end on Sunday.

Shanghai-based Giant said it would continue to increase its research team. It currently employs 1,000 researchers. The firm has cooperated with hardware giants Huawei Technologies and Intel to provide users better services, said Liu Wei, Giant's president.

Tencent Inc, China's biggest online instant message service provider, said it was working on game development for devices besides personal computers. The Shenzhen-based firm said it was testing games for mobile phones and netbooks - small laptops with super mobility and basic Internet functions - said Ren Yuxin, Tencent's vice president.

Nvidia, the world's No. 1 graphics-chip firm, said it had developed chips for handsets and netbooks to play 3D or high-definition video.

Chinajoy, which attracts 170 domestic and overseas exhibitors, is set to open in Shanghai on July 22.



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