is taking the next step in its plans to expand into Asia.
The video-games publisher said on Wednesday that it's taking one of its most popular franchises,
, to the online gaming market in that region.
EA plans to co-develop the game along with Korean game company
. EA has a 19% share in Neowiz, which it acquired in March for $105 million.
Neowiz Games will have the exclusive publishing rights for
online in Korea. EA is yet to announce the availability of the game for China and Japan.
Gamers can expect to see enhancements such as social networking and new features in
online, said EA.
The latest agreement furthers EA's
plan of partnering with regional game developers to tweak its portfolio of games for the Asian market.
In May, EA invested $167 million for a 15% stake in Chinese gaming company,
Redwood City, Calif.-based EA has already seen some success in Asia, with its with 2006 co-launch with Neowiz in Korea of
, a game that now has more than 4.8 million subscribers there.
The two companies said in March that they would extend their relationship to include the co-development of four more online games for Asia.
is the first EA franchise to be announced as part of that agreement.
Though revenue from Asia accounts for just about 5% of the total business, it's a big market.
The Chinese video-game market alone grew 68% in 2006, says market researcher Niko Partners. By 2011, Niko forecasts that China will have nearly 72 million gamers, up from about 37.5 million currently -- 90% of whom play online games.
Shares of EA closed the regular session up 12 cents to $50.22.