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The China Angle: Profiting From Love

In Gamasutra's latest China Angle column, Pacific Epoch's Shang Koo sees love alive in Chinese MMOs as the country celebrates its second Valentine's Day of the year, while the prognosis for two MMOs in particular is somewhat more grim, as preparations beg
In Gamasutra's latest China Angle column, Pacific Epoch's Shang Koo sees love alive in Chinese MMOs as the country celebrates its second Valentine's Day of the year, while the prognosis for two MMOs in particular is somewhat more grim, as preparations begin to suspend operation. Virtual Love August 19 marks China's second Valentine's Day in 2007. The Chinese version of the romantic holiday takes place every year on July 7 according to the Chinese lunar calendar, which usually places the holiday in August. In addition to supporting restaurants, beauty salons, and flower shops, the holiday also makes major contributions to MMORPGs in China. After all, virtual flowers and dinner usually cost less than the real thing. Chinese MMORPG developer and operator NetEase will give away 77 real life silver rings in each of its 509 server groups for its Q-style MMORPG Fantasy Westward Journey to celebrate Chinese Valentine's Day. The special activity will only take place from 2 to 4 pm on Valentine's Day. Fantasy Westward Journey set a new peak concurrent user (PCU) record of 1.5 million users on March 4, during a special activity for the Chinese Lantern Festival. Netease charges hourly fees for its games; free to play game operators see a different type of opportunity in the holiday. Beijing based online game company Perfect World will offer virtual weddings for players of its in-house developed MMORPG Legend Of Martial Arts from August 16 to August 30. While virtual marriages were available in the game before, a virtual wedding is much more romantic than a virtual certificate. Like their real life counterparts, elaborate virtual marriages are not cheap. Both the bride and groom have to purchase a virtual item called "Hun Li Da Li Bao", which costs 99 Yuan (US$1 = 7.5 Yuan) each. No plans for virtual honeymoons or divorces have been announced. Easy Come, Easy Go Chinese online game company Foreseen suspended operation of all server groups for its licensed 3D MMORPG Uncharted Waters Online (DOL) on August 7. The game, licensed from KOEI, was one of the most anticipated MMORPGs in China since the launch of World of Warcraft in 2005. The hype helped the game record over 400,000 PCU during open beta testing in November 2006. The few remaining loyal fans of the game are now playing on Taiwanese servers. Uncharted Waters Online may soon be followed by another 3D MMORPG operating in China. Moliyo launched its licensed online game Cabal Online in December 2006 and recorded 480,000 PCU in January. Last month, the company shut down more than a third of its server groups for the game. In desperation, the company has also reactivated previously banned accounts. Founder Sues Blizzard For Copyright Infringement Chinese PC maker Founder Technology Group announced on August 13 that it is suing Blizzard Entertainment for copyright infringement. Founder claims Blizzard used Founder's proprietary Chinese characters fonts in the localized version of World of Warcraft. Founder is asking for 100 million Yuan ($13.2 million) in compensation. [Shang Koo is an editor at Shanghai-based Pacific Epoch, and oversees research and daily news content on China's new media industries, with a concentration in online games. Pacific Epoch itself provides investment and trade news and publishes a number of subscription products regarding the Chinese technology market. Readers wanting to contact him can e-mail [email protected].]

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