NetEase.com, the mainland's second-largest operator of online games, plans a more aggressive launch this year of titles developed in-house after these offerings helped boost earnings in the first quarter. The Beijing-based company, which operates the popular World of Warcraft online game franchise licensed from Blizzard Entertainment, yesterday reported a 63 per cent rise in net profit to 737.4 million yuan (HK$880.1 million), from 452.3 million yuan a year earlier, due to greater revenue contribution from its locally created games and increased online advertising. That beat the 619.6 million yuan average of 10 analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Total revenue grew 25 per cent to 1.5 billion yuan from 1.2 billion yuan the previous year. 'For the first quarter, total revenue from online games increased by approximately 28 per cent year over year, driven by higher revenue contributions from our self-developed games, namely Heroes of Tang Dynasty, Fantasy Westward Journey, Westward Journey Online II and Tianxia II, along with continued revenue growth from World of Warcraft,' chief executive William Ding Lei said. 'We plan to keep working hard to make the games a continued success.' Lei said that NetEase would launch an advanced version of Tianxia II next quarter after it released an 'expansion pack' of the game last month. The next expansion packs for Heroes of Tang Dynasty and Westward Journey Online II are slated this second quarter, while the next expansion packs for Legend of Westward Journey and Westward Journey: Genesis are set for next quarter. In a report, analysts at JP Morgan in Hong Kong said: 'We believe NetEase has a solid pipeline to drive growth over the next few years and a top-notch research and development team in China.' Nasdaq-listed NetEase is also credited with its continued investment in its portal business, including selected content, its Twitter-like miniblog, video, online payment, e-commerce and various wireless applications. The JP Morgan report said the investments could further 'unlock NetEase's user and brand value'. It added: 'We remain positive about the [mainland online] game sector due to high cash flow yield, low price earnings, and good government support.' According to Bloomberg, NetEase's shares traded in the US have gained 27 per cent this year, compared with the 29 per cent gain in the Hong Kong-traded shares of Tencent Holdings, the mainland's biggest internet company and top online game operator.