FYI 4.14.2010

China's Online Games Market Will Exceed $6b in 2012; Alibaba Will Invest $732m to Upgrade Alipay; News Corp. Appoints Sarah Harden in Hong Kong

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China's online games market will exceed $6 billion in 2012, according to the intelligence and consulting firm Pearl Research. In 2009, the online games market grew 35% to $3.9 billion, following a 63% increase in 2008.

"Similar to the US, a major trend in China is the growth of social networking sites such as QZone, Renren and Kaixin001, all of which host social games, which is discussed in the report. These games are starting to cannibalize some of the advanced casual games on the market," said Allison Luong, Pearl's managing director.

China's most popular online games include NetEase's "Fantasy Westward Journey," Giant's "Zhengtu Online," Tencent's "Dungeon and Fighter" and "Cross Fire," and Blizzard's "World of Warcraft."

Game operators in China posted strong revenue growth in 2009. The top game operators are Tencent, with $792 million in 2009 revenue, Shanda Games ($704 million), Netease ($493 million), Perfect World ($314 million) and Changyou ($268 million).

Virtual currencies are under increasing scrutiny with a series of laws designed to tighten their use. For instance, regulations specify that virtual currency should only be used to purchase virtual items. In addition, online game operators are not allowed to give out virtual items or virtual currency through lottery-based activities.

Alibaba Group will invest $732 million over the next five years to upgrade Alipay, China's largest online payment network.

Online payment will continue to play an ever-growing and significant role in the development of e-commerce as well as the stimulation of consumer demand," said Lucy Peng, Alipay's CEO. "Consumers expect a safe, convenient and affordable globalized payment platform. [With] this investment, we aim to continue playing a fundamental role in the ongoing development of e-commerce in China and around the world."

The new investment will be used to improve infrastructure, win more customers and build a network of merchants.

Sarah Harden
Sarah Harden
News Corp. is hiring Sarah Harden for the new post of group director of partnerships and development, Asia.

She will be responsible for existing joint ventures across Asia and for exploring business development opportunities in the region, starting in early May.

Ms. Harden currently lives in Los Angeles, where she is senior VP, business development at Fox Networks Group, another News Corp. company.

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