China’s The9 sees record user numbers

SHANGHAI — China’s online game operator The9 Ltd. announced record-breaking user numbers for the last quarter of 2007 along with strong revenue growth in a conference call with investors and analysts Friday morning in Shanghai.

“We had $58.1 million in revenues, representing 34 percent quarter-over-quarter growth,” said company chairman and CEO Jun Zhu. That is a 50 percent increase over the same period the previous year, he added. There was also a peak of over 990,000 concurrent users, he said. “The average was 470,000 concurrent users — also a record high.”

In January, the company began technical testing of FIFA Online 2. “We have richer content, and better playability,” he said.

In addition, the company has several games development projects underway, Zhu said. To support them, the company doubled its research and development budget over the last two quarters.

Meanwhile, the company’s top earner, Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, continued to show strong growth, he said.

He dismissed concerns that the company might have problems with its World of Warcraft licenses and said that the company had moved away from being a one-game company, to a multi-game platform.

“I am very confident that we will continue to work with Blizzard,” Zhu said, but he added that the company will continue to license other games, including bestsellers from Korea, and to develop its own content.

Read full article at The Hollywood Reporter.