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Blizzard Entertainment(R) Signs Agreement with The9 for Operation of World of Warcraft(R): The Burning Crusade(TM) in Mainland China.

IRVINE, Calif. -- Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it has signed an agreement with The9 for the operation of World of Warcraft([R]): The Burning Crusade([TM]) in mainland China. The9 currently operates Blizzard Entertainment([R])'s critically acclaimed massively multiplayer online role-playing game, World of Warcraft, in China, where the game is played by more than 3.5 million subscribers. Localization of The Burning Crusade, Blizzard's first World of Warcraft expansion, into simplified Chinese is underway, and further details regarding the release of the expansion in China will be announced in the months ahead.

The new agreement between Blizzard and The9 includes provisions for hardware upgrades to the existing World of Warcraft infrastructure to enable the best gaming experience possible for players in China. Working closely with Blizzard's global teams, The9 will continue providing local community management, technical support, and 24/7 in-game customer service. The9 also manages distribution of game cards and the physical hosting of World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade on local servers.

"We're fully committed to ensuring that the ongoing operation of World of Warcraft in mainland China will provide an excellent experience for players there for many years to come," said Mike Morhaime, president and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. "We look forward to extending that commitment with this expansion as well as with future Blizzard releases."

Launched in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand in mid January, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade smashed the day-one sales record for PC games, selling nearly 2.4 million copies within its first 24 hours of availability.(*) World of Warcraft is played by more than 8 million subscribers worldwide.

World of Warcraft's Subscriber Definition

World of Warcraft subscribers include individuals who have paid a subscription fee or have an active prepaid card to play World of Warcraft, as well as those who have purchased the game and are within their free month of access. Internet Game Room players who have accessed the game over the last thirty days are also counted as subscribers. The above definition excludes all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired prepaid cards. Subscribers in licensees' territories are defined along the same rules.

About Blizzard Entertainment

Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft and the Warcraft([R]), StarCraft([R]), and Diablo([R]) series, Blizzard Entertainment (www.blizzard.com), a division of Vivendi Games, is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating many of the industry's most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard's track record includes nine #1-selling games and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company's free Internet gaming service, Battle.net([R]), reigns as the largest in the world, with millions of active users.

About The9 Limited

The9 Limited is a leading online game operator in China. The9's business is primarily focused on operating and developing MMORPGs for the Chinese online game players market. The company is partnered with Blizzard Entertainment([R]) for the operation of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft([R]) in mainland China. Furthermore, The9 directly or through affiliates operates multiple additional licensed MMORPGs, as well as its own proprietary MMORPG, in China.

*Based on internal company records and reports from key distribution partners.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Feb 1, 2007
Words:538
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