NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of The9 Ltd. fell Thursday after the Shanghai-based online game operator said its license to operate the popular game "World of Warcraft" will be granted to a competitor after it expires.

The9's American depositary shares fell 70 cents, or 7 percent, to $9.26.

The9's license for "World of Warcraft" is set to expire in June.

Blizzard Entertainment Inc., which owns the game, said Thursday that an affiliate of Beijing-based NetEase will get a three-year license to run the game in mainland China once the current license deal ends.

Last summer, Blizzard and NetEase announced they would partner on the operation of Blizzard games "Warcraft III," ''StarCraft II" and the Battle.net gaming platform.

NetEase.com Inc. American depositary shares rose 81 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $30.60.
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