The9 Ltd planned to open beta testing of its licensed turn-based 3D strategic role playing game Atlantica on June 3, the Shanghai-based online game company announced in Beijing last week.
Atlantica is developed by Ndoors, the top online game developer in Korea, and The9, one of the largest domestic online game developers is the exclusive agency of the game in the Chinese mainland.
The game leads players into exploring the lost civilization of Atlantis and uses the new Advanced Multiple Operation technology, a playing mode allowing one player to control nine characters and battles of 27 versus 27.
It is the first large-scale turn-based 3D strategic role playing game in the world and won Korea's top game award in 2008 and was ranked top 1 online game in North America for two months.
Chen Xiaowei, president of The9, said the launch of the game marks a new step in the company's dimensional development strategy and will bring new experiences to game players.
To promote the game, a real world/virtual campaign called Fire Travel in Nine Cities will be launched on June 6.
The9 recently lost exclusive agency over NetEase from Blizzard Entertainment, the leading game producer in America, in April after four years of its licensed 3D MMORPG World of Warcraft (WoW), which drew more than 1.3 million maximum online players and brought in about 1.5 billion yuan, accounting for more than 90 percent of The9's total income last year, according to the company's financial report in 2008. Its stock price slumped 24.66 percent on NASDAQ the day when the news that it will lose custody of WoW was anounced.
An industry insider said the huge loss cannot be repaired in the short term. However, Chen said that she believes that the company will blaze a trail because of the launches of new games, the adoption of new development strategy and other resources.
The9 also owns agencies of several popular online games produced by Electronic Arts, the Blizzard's main rival in interactive game industry in America who holds 15 percent of the stock share of the company. It has developed popular games like EA Sports FIFA Online2 which is the most popular football online game all over the world. The9 is also developing its own online games as well as enhancing co-operations with other domestic online game operators in order to develop in diverse ways.
iResearch said in a report that China's online game market is expected to reach 68 billion yuan in 2012. It is possible China will overtake the US market and become the largest online game market in the world this year.
Data from Analysys International showed that in the first quarter of 2009, China's online game industry made 5.51 billion yuan, up 8.3 percent year-on-year.
Sales of the industry grew 52.2 percent in 2008 to 20.8 billion yuan, according to data from iResearch.
In the first quarter of this year, Shanda has an income of 1.08 billion yuan, accounting for 19.6 percent of the market share in this industry. Tencent comes at the second place with 16.5 percent of the total share and followed by NetEase with 12.9 percent. The9 ranks at the fourth place with 7.3 percent.