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Activision takes free Call of Duty online to China
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Analysis & Opinion
The Made-in-China CEO
By Malathi Nayak
Tue Jul 3, 2012 12:09pm EDT
(Reuters) - Activision Blizzard, the biggest U.S. video game publisher by market capitalization aims to take its popular Call of Duty title as a free-to-play online game to China in a bid to expand its footprint in Asia.
Shares of Activision were up 3 percent at $12.34 in Tuesday morning trade on Nasdaq.
The video game publisher announced a partnership on Tuesday with Tencent Holdings Limited, an Internet and wireless services provider that will have an exclusive license to operate the war-simulation shooter game in China.
"We think China is one of the most exciting places in the world for us to grow our business and to develop innovative new games," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a statement.
In China, Tencent runs a successful tactical shooter game called CrossFire that rakes in $1 billion a year in revenue, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.
"If cross fire can do $1 billion a year, Call of Duty with better graphics and better design is likely to approach that over time," Pachter said. "It's meaningful but it will take a while before that happens."
This announcement comes in the wake of the departure of Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of media and telecommunications company Vivendi and amid rumors the company is looking to sell its $8.1 billion stake in Activision Blizzard.
The Santa Monica, California-based company had hinted over the last year and in its earnings call in May that a free-to-play, microtransaction-based Call of Duty game for China was in development. The game will target Chinese gamers, who have popularized the trend of playing free online games and paying small amounts to purchase virtual goods like weapons and maps over game play on consoles.
(Reporting By Malathi Nayak; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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