World of Warcraft sales soar to $42m

World of Warcraft sales soar to $42m

Chinese operator claims 27.6 million registered users

Revenues from the hugely popular World of Warcraft continue to grow in China, according to the company which operates the game in the country.

The9 Ltd reported net revenue of $42.2m for the third quarter of 2007, up 35 per cent year on year and 17 per cent on the previous quarter. Net income was down 25 per cent year on year to $5.1m.

The company did not provide a breakdown of revenue from the various games it operates, but has previously estimated that World of Warcraft is responsible for more than 90 per cent of its revenues.

While the game apparently continues to dominate The9's bottom line, the company has begun to record significant revenues from a new Korea-developed multiplayer online game, Soul of The Ultimate Nation, which began commercial operations in China in May 2007.

"With the launch of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion pack in mainland China in early September, we have attained a record number of concurrent players and game-play use," said Jun Zhu, chief executive and chairman at The9.

"In the third quarter of 2007 we attained aggregate peak concurrent users of approximately 985,000 for games currently in commercial operation, and had over 27.6 million total registered users as of 30 September 2007."

The user totals given apparently include some games which allow free registration. Unlike Warcraft, in which users pay to play, Soul of The Ultimate Nation generates income mainly from the sale of software and virtual items.

These accounted for $4.3m in revenues, almost double the previous quarter, executives said.

The9 paid Korean developer Webzen $13m and agreed a three-year 22 per cent royalty rate for Soul of The Ultimate Nation in 2005.