Electronic Arts to Open Chinese Studio

The company looks to tap the growing Asian market.
Author:
Publish date:

Electronic Arts

(ERTS)

is heading East.

The leading video-game software publisher plans to open a studio in China as part of a larger effort to tap into the burgeoning Asian market, company spokeswoman Trudy Muller said. The effort will focus on developing mobile and online games.

EA does not have a timeline for when it will open the studio nor for when it will release its first games for the Chinese market, Muller said. Initially, the company plans to customize games such as

Ultima Online

,

FIFA Soccer

and

Medal of Honor

for China, she said.

Eventually, however, the company plans to use its new studio to develop games specifically for the China market, Muller said. EA foresees the studio employing up to 500 people by the end of the decade, she said.

While EA has a worldwide presence and sales, it has had only limited success in China. The company and other game developers have been reluctant to sell packaged games in China, because of rampant piracy of such products and other forms of intellectual property.

Because of this reluctance, to date the video game market in China has largely been served by homegrown online games.

Indeed, EA's focus on online games in the market "allows us to circumvent some of the concerns about piracy on packaged goods," Muller said.

But the move could be a risky one for EA. During the dot-com boom, the company attempted to set up a separate online gaming division. The move ended up being a disaster for EA, as the EA.com division posted more than $500 million in operating losses before EA shut down the division last year.

The report came after the market closed on Tuesday. In after-hours exchange, EA's stock was down 9 cents, or 0.2%, to $45.24. Earlier in the day, the company's shares closed regular trading on Tuesday up 50 cents, or 1.1%, to $45.33.