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WoW loss shakes up head count

SHANGHAI-BASED The9 Ltd will lay off 300 employees and reassign another 800 employees to its other online game divisions after it lost the rights to operate the online game, World of WarCraft, in China two weeks ago, the company said yesterday.

The affected employees, which accounted for about one-third of The9's total head count, used to work for the popular mulitplayer online game WoW. The 300 employees to be laid off are mainly customer service staff of the WoW game operation. In a break with the standard industry rule, The9 won't restrict them seeking jobs in other game firms, the company said in a statement delivered to Shanghai Daily.

The firm will also transfer about 800 former WoW employees to other online game divisions operated by The9.

It was a difficult decision to make ''but we have to do it in the interests of majority employees," The9 said in the statement.

In April, WoW game developer Blizzard Entertainment announced that it would not renew its operating contract with The9, which ended on June 17.

The9 depended very heavily on WoW game revenue, with about 90 percent of its income coming from the game and analysts say the termination of its cooperation with Blizzard will hit the firm's bottom line.

The9 has to diversify its income and "get a totally new start," Chen Xiaowei, The9's president, said during a conference recently.

The9 has introduced dancing game Audition 2 and soccer game FIFA Online 2 to the Chinese market and it will also strengthen research and development, Chen said.



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