Heroes of Might and Magic gets MMORPG treatment

Ubisoft teams with China's TQ Digital; online version of Might and Magic franchise due for Chinese gamers in 2005.

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SHANGHAI, China--In America, 2004 has seen the cancellation of many high-profile massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Ultima X: Odyssey, Mythica, Warhammer Online, have all fallen under the axe.

However, across the Pacific, a classic role-playing game with more than a dozen sequels is about to be reincarnated as an MMORPG space. At a press conference this week in Shanghai, Ubisoft China and game developer TQ Digital Entertainment said they had inked a deal that will see an MMORPG based on the Might and Magic franchise reaching Chinese gamers in 2005. A worldwide launch is also being considered.

In the case of the upcoming venture, Alain Corre, Ubisoft managing director for Europe, Middle East, and Asia, said, "The approach on this product is to blend Asian gameplay elements and a Western franchise with high recognition in the Asian territories. To that end, we will work closely with TQ Digital, who already has wide experience in this area and who we know will be able to develop a great game that will please Chinese MMO fans." He added, "The online gaming market in Asia is booming, but, to date, Western products have failed to penetrate in any depth."

TQ Digital's parent company, NetDragon, made headlines last year when it sold its gaming portal, 17173.com, to one of China's online giants, SOHU, which is the operator of a Web portal that delivers news, search, games, e-mail, and instant messaging to its customers in China. The $20 million dollar deal was one of the few significant transactions completed in the competitive Chinese games marketplace in the last 12 months. TQ Digital is considered one of the major game operators in China, distinct from others because its online games are all locally developed.

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