EA pours $167m in Chinese gaming firm

Electronic Arts (EA), the world's biggest video game publisher, said it would pay about $167 million for 15% of The9, a leading Chinese online game operator, to increase its stake in the Asian online gaming market, a Chinadaily.com report said.

The Chinadaily.com report also said US company also agreed to give The9 exclusive licensing rights to its football game, 'EA Sports FIFA Online', on the Chinese mainland.

'The agreement builds on EA's strategy of partnering with proven regional operators to bring online games to Asia, and The9's strategy of expanding its game product offerings in the Chinese market,' the two companies said in a statement last night.

EA, which has developed games for Microsoft's XBOX and Sony's PlayStation, has been aggressively expanding in Asia, the report said.

The firm said it had acquired 19% of South Korea's Neowiz and is planning to jointly develop online games with the Korean game developer and operator in Asia. However, the US game publisher has seen meager revenue growth in China.

NASDAQ-listed The9, one of China's leading game operators, has been looking for new games to replicate the success of World of Warcraft, a game it licensed from Vivendi Universal Games unit Blizzd Entertainment, the report said.