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Chinese websites focus on games after first year of profits
Updated: 2004-03-08 17:00

Three leading Chinese gateway websites, Sina, Sohu and Netease, have ambitious plans for online games after they ending 2003 in the black.

"Online games will continue to be the engine of our business in 2004 after they contributed much to the profit growth of the fourth quarter last year," said Sun Deli, deputy CEO of Netease.

The number of online game players would continue growing as the website promoted new services, he said.

Last year Netease saw surprising success with its "Chinese Odyssey Online II," and in January it launched "Chinese Odyssey Magic".

Sina pledged to invest more in online games. It has just founded a joint venture with Korean gaming maker NCSoft and plans to set up a strategic alliance with Internet bars, hardware producers and telecommunications firms to promote the Korean game "Heaven II."

Sohu is to promote its online game "Sword on line" in the latter half of this year after it bought the online gaming website 17173.com, the Beijing News reported.

The three leading Chinese websites reported profits for the first time in 2003. Sina earned 31.4 million US dollars in net profits, while Sohu reported 26.4 million US dollars and Netease 39.5 million US dollars.

Advertising became a fast growing business for the three gateway websites. Sina reported a revenue of 41.15 million US dollars from advertising, a year-on-year rise of 67 percent while Sohu's advertising revenue doubled from 2002 to 29.5 million US dollars. Netease earned the least among the three at 10.4 million dollars.

"The website is also a medium. We will never stop improving the content to attract advertising," said Charles Zhang, chief executive of Sohu.

The company said its operating revenue in the first quarter of 2004 was likely to range from 25.6 million to 26.6 million US dollars, of which 10.2 to 10.6 million would come from advertising.

Sina said it expected 12.5 million to 13 million US dollars from advertising in the first quarter of this year when the operating revenue would total 39 million to 40 million.

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