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World of Warcraft tops 4.5 million subscribers, launches in Taiwan

Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Universal Games, has announced the launch of its award winning World of Warcraft MMO in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau regions.

Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Universal Games, has announced the launch of its award winning MMO World of Warcraft in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

During an extensive open beta-testing period with a base of over 800,000 players, the number of testers online simultaneously peaked at over 140,000, exceeding the company's initial expectations.

Mike Morhaime, president and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment stated: "Gamers in these regions have always shown great support for Blizzard games, so it was important to us to launch World of Warcraft there as quickly as possible. We're now looking forward to seeing all of our newest players online and providing them with an unsurpassed gaming experience."

Management and support for the Taiwanese operation will be taken care of by Blizzard's partner, Soft-World, and its subsidiary, Game First International. GFI will provide a dedicated team in Taiwan to synchronise content updates and deliver player feedback to the developers. In addition, the team will provide 24-hour customer service with local call-centre representatives helping players with technical issues and gameplay queries.

As a counter-measure against piracy and on-line in-game hacks, Blizzard has implemented a CD-key system for authorisation and account access. CD-key packages can be bought individually for NTD 168 (HKD 42) and include 99 free World of Warcraft points, which are used for game time.

Points expire at a rate of 5 per hour (NTD 5/HKD 1.25 per hour) and additional top-up cards can be purchased. Alternatively, players can buy monthly cards, which provide unlimited play time for a period of one calendar month.

According to Blizzard, the number of subscribers worldwide topped 4.5 million prior to the Taiwan launch and it is expected that this figure will rise sharply as gamers in Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong begin playing the game. The figure is based on individuals who have paid a subscription fee or purchased a prepaid card, as well as those who have purchased the installation box bundled with one free month access.

Internet game room players having accessed the game over the last seven days are also counted as customers, though the figure does exclude all players under free promotional subscriptions, expired or cancelled subscriptions, and expired pre-paid cards.

Vivendi Universal recently announced its third quarter financial results, which showed a doubling in revenues for its games division. The company attributed this revenue increase to the continued success and constant subscription revenue stream of World of Warcraft.

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Paul Loughrey

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