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China to get D&D Online

The booming Chinese online games market has received another boost with the news that massively multiplayer online role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons Online will be arriving later this year.

Shanda Interactive, China's largest operator of online games, has signed a deal with US publisher Turbine for exclusive rights to operate the game in the country, beginning in the second half of 2005. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Shanda's leadership position and outstanding reputation with China's online gaming community makes them the ideal partner for introducing Dungeons & Dragons Online to China," said Turbine head Jeffrey Anderson.

"This agreement reaffirms Turbine's commitment to bring the D&D Online experience to every gamer in China and throughout the world."

Shanda CEO Tianqiao Chen added: "As the pioneer of traditional role-playing games, Dungeons & Dragons Online is a terrific addition to our leading portfolio of both internally developed and licensed online game offerings.

"We look forward to bringing a rich game experience to China's gamers via our national distribution platform."

According to market research by the International Data Corporation, the Chinese online games market will be worth an estimated $1.3 billion by 2009. Shanda says it is the leading online operator in the country in terms of both revenue and user numbers, and had around 2 million peak concurrent users playing its games in 2004.

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Ellie Gibson: Ellie spent nearly a decade working at Eurogamer, specialising in hard-hitting executive interviews and nob jokes. These days she does a comedy show and podcast. She pops back now and again to write the odd article and steal our biscuits.