NetEase set to bring more warcraft to mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 March, 2012, 12:00am

Share, China's second-biggest online games operator, extended its licensing pact with US game developer Blizzard Entertainment, the creator and publisher of the popular World of Warcraft franchise.

Their new three-year deal sets the stage for the domestic release of the fourth expansion pack of World of Warcraft, a multiplayer online role-playing game with 10.2 million subscribers globally as of December 31. Connie Gu, an analyst at Bocom International, said World of Warcraft was 'the major driver of game revenue growth for NetEase in 2011', when the mainland firm's total turnover increased 32 per cent to 7.5 billion yuan (HK$9.2 billion) from the previous year.

Beijing-based NetEase, which is also the leading free e-mail provider on the mainland, last year saw revenue from its online games business rise 35 per cent to 6.6 billion yuan from 2010.

'We're grateful for the tremendous enthusiasm Chinese gamers have shown for World of Warcraft over the years,' said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. 'We look forward to working with NetEase to deliver all of the new features and content of Mists of Pandaria to Chinese players as soon as possible.'

Blizzard has been working with NetEase since 2009, when the firm replaced Shanghai-based internet gaming company The9 as the licensed operator of World of Warcraft on the mainland. In addition, Nasdaq-listed NetEase's partnership with Blizzard included mainland licences for Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, as well as the online gaming service.

'Both companies have complementary business strategies and share a similar corporate culture,' said NetEase CEO William Ding Lei.

NetEase has led the industry in mainland-developed online games, such as the widely played in-house offerings Fantasy Westward Journey and Westward Journey Online II.