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China's The9 earns epic loot from The World of Warcraft

Practically gold farming in real life

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The owner of six of China's fastest privately-owned computers continues to rake in cash thanks to more than a little help from orcs and elves.

Video game publisher and online operator The9 said today it posted $66.3m in second quarter 2008 revenue, an immense 69 per cent increase from the same period last year. The lion's share of revenue came from being the Chinese proprietor of the immensely popular online role-playing game, World of Warcraft. Revenue from running subscription-based games was $60.7m — contributing over 90 per cent of the company's earnings.

"Our solid financial results were driven by the continuing growth of Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft and Soul of the Ultimate Nation, despite our closing of all servers for three days on observation and respect for those impacted by the earthquake tragedy," said The9 CEO Jun Zhu.

But Zhu is giving SUN way more credit than it's due. That's likely in order to shake off investor fears the company relies so heavily on one game alone.

But just look at the numbers: The9 reports that in Q2, it attained aggregate peak concurrent users (PCU) of approximately 1.3 million for games in commercial operation. WoW's PCU, however, surpasses the 1 million mark in China.

In total, the company reports over 41.5 million total registered users.

Net income for Q2 was $16.9m, a 129 per cent increase from 2007. Not a bad amount of growth, and with China's expanding market of PC owners there's more to be had. There's also Blizzard's upcoming expansion to WoW, Wrath of the Lich King. But right now the company is busy trying to diversify. After all, eventually World of Warcraft will be dethroned.

The9 said it's continuing to focus on marketing itself to lower tier regional markets, expanding game licensing deals and bolstering its in-house game development team.

"Through our operational and strategic initiatives, we are gradually and relentlessly executing our business strategy, so as to generate sustainable and scalable long-term growth for the Company," The9 said. ®

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