Sega breaking into Chinese online game world

Sega launches Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst in China; more games are coming to the mainland, and Sega may move production there as well.

TOKYO--Sega is hatching plans to develop seven new online games, three of which will be designed specifically for the booming Chinese gaming market, according to the Chinese People's Daily. The news came from Yuji Naka, division one chief of Sega R&D, who spoke at the Chinese launch of Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst--Sega's first online title for the country.

Sega will work with three Chinese companies to market the games, which will include China's first racing game, according to the People's Daily online. The site also reported that Sega plans to build a large entertainment center on the mainland and may ultimately move its production base there.

"Sega, as a whole, has a friendly feeling towards China's online game market. We're currently developing seven online games. For China, we plan to start off by launching three of them," Naka reportedly told press who gathered at the launch.

Chinese gamers--some 14 million strong, according to the BBC News--already have their pick of about 200 online games. Approximately 70 percent of the titles are licensed from Korea. The BBC News reported that sales of online games in China were worth about 1.3 billion yuan in 2003 and, according to analysts, the market will continue to grow for the next five years at an annual pace of about 2 billion yuan ($241.6 million).

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