'World of Warcraft' hits new high in China

5:00 AM PST 04/16/2008 by Maria Trombly, AP

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SHANGHAI -- "World of Warcraft" has hit a new high in China, with the massively multiplayer online game registering more than 1 million players online at one time, local distributor The9 said Monday.

The figure marks a 25% increase in peak concurrent users since the last time an official count was revealed -- Oct. 4, 2007 -- when 800,000 were said to be simultaneously, according to spokeswoman for The9.

At the end of 2007, there were 10.3 million total registered "Warcraft" users, she said.

Shanghai-based The9 also announced Monday that it has expanded its licensing agreement with Irvine, Calif.-based "Warcraft" developer Blizzard Entertainment, to include the "Wrath of the Lich King" expansion pack.

For fiscal year 2007, net revenue from online games and merchandise stood at $161.6 million, an increase of 21% from $134.0 million in 2006. The increase was a result of the continued growth of the "Warcraft" game, The9 said.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, revenue from "Warcraft" alone totaled $11.8 million, the company added.

The9 licenses "Warcraft" from Blizzard, which is not allowed to distribute in China directly.
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