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EA, NetDragon Partner On Chinese  Ultima Online

EA, NetDragon Partner On Chinese Ultima Online

July 23, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

July 23, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

A brand-new version of classic online RPG Ultima Online is in the works for the Chinese market, thanks to a collaboration between Electronic Arts and Chinese online game company NetDragon.

EA's Warhammer Online house, Mythic, will support NetDragon in developing a version of the seminal game specifically for the Chinese market, and NetDragon will also maintain licensing rights to operate the game in Hong Kong, Macau and India as well.

"Capitalizing on our ability to create a strong online gaming experience, we are confident that Ultima Online will be a success in China and will also achieve remarkable results in the other markets where we'll operate the game," said NetDragon chairman and CEO Liu Dejian.

NetDragon develops and operates a broad portfolio of MMOs in China, including Zero Online, Tou Ming Zhuang Online and Heroes of Might and Magic Online, among others.

EA is among many U.S. video game publishers currently looking to new business models and online games in Asia as a way to drive global expansion and thrive in the economic downturn. It's been estimated that about half Activision Blizzard's World of Warcraft users are in China -- and with that game currently down for all of the region's users with no set uptime date in sight, it's an opportunity for other publishers to gain some of that marketshare.

Online gaming in China grew by 61 percent in 2008 alone to a staggering total $2.75 billion in revenue, according to research group Niko Partners -- 77 percent of which comes from MMOs. And the online market continues to swell, projected to reach $8.9 billion by 2013.

"Ultima Online is a well known EA property and we're delighted to bring the game to fans in China, Hong Kong, Macau and India," said EA Asia president Jon Niermann. "NetDragon is a proven partner and we're confident in their expertise to build and operate a great gaming experience for players."

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