Disney sees gaming in China as entry point

And other news in Greater China

By Published on .

BEIJING--Walt Disney Co. has made its debut in China's hot online gaming market by signing a deal to let Shanda Interactive, a Chinese gaming firm, develop a game featuring Disney cartoon characters. The game is expected to be available for public testing in 2007.

The move is part of Disney's strategy to expand its presence in China, where the company has "a huge competitive advantage, thanks to the strength of the Disney brand," said Stanley Cheung, the company's managing director for China.

Due to broadcasting restrictions, Disney and other foreign companies aren't allowed to operate their own channels in China, so they must find alternative ways to promote brand awareness. Disney's Internet Group and Shanda are aiming to tap a broad demographic, including female players, with what's known as a "casual" online game. In contrast, the bulk of the gaming industry in China is based on a more intense form of play known as "massively multiplayer online role playing games" (MMORPG) that lets young players, usually male, interact with each other in an evolving online fantasy world.

Shanda Chairman-CEO Tianqiao Chen said he hopes Disney's "wholesome content will further broaden our user demographic." Shanda's reputation has lagged recently as its core MMORPG games have aged. Both the audience and sales of online games are growing rapidly in China.

Safa Ratschy, an analyst for investment bank Piper Jaffray, predicts China's current gaming population of 30 million could jump to 80 million over the next five years. Online research firm iResearch has predicted the China online game market will be worth $975 million in 2006, up 28% from last year's levels. Over the next four years, sales are expected to see compound annual growth of 16%, valuing the market at nearly $1.8 billion by 2010.

BEIJING--China's rocket-like growth in adspending is slowing down. Ad expenditure in China reached $9.3 billion in the first quarter of 2006, representing 21% year-on-year growth, compared to growth of 27% one year ago, according to CTR Media Intelligence, a joint venture between CITVC and TNS Media Intelligence.

The company added that new media, such as mobile phone, internet and digital TV, have all surfaced in China, complicating an information environment in which traditional media's impact is diminishing. Also, product placement has become an increasingly attractive option for advertisers weary of high inflation for airtime on China's national state-run CCTV network. Popular contest shows like Super Girl and Lycra Cool have pushed the current value of branded entertainment shows now on Chinese television to $125 million.

HONG KONG--Air New Zealand has appointed Omnicom Group's Proximity, the below-the-line marketing arm of BBDO Worldwide, to handle its integrated promotions across Asia, namely the launch of the airline's new routes to/from Hong Kong and Shanghai, led by Proximity's offices in those two cities.
Most Popular
In this article: