Activision takes free "Call of Duty" online to China
By Malathi Nayak
(Reuters) - Activision Blizzard, the biggest U.S. video game publisher by market capitalization, plans to offer its popular 'Call of Duty' title as a free-to-play online game in China in a bid to expand its footprint in Asia.
The video game publisher announced a partnership on Tuesday with Tencent Holdings Limited, an Internet and wireless services provider that will have an exclusive license to operate the shooter game in China.
Shooter games have been hugely successful in China. Chinese gamers have popularized the trend of playing free online games and paying small amounts to purchase virtual goods like weapons and maps over game play on consoles. Tencent's users form the largest online community in China, according to a company statement.
"We're really enthusiastic about China as a market opportunity," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick told Reuters.
"It's unique content developed for the Chinese audience, developed for the Chinese model and a brand new game."
Activision's announcement comes in the wake of the departure of Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of media and telecommunications company Vivendi, which owns a 61 percent stake in Activision.
Levy's departure has revived speculation that Vivendi is looking to sell its stake in Activision Blizzard, valued at $8.1 billion.
Activision, based in Santa Monica, California, had hinted over the last year and in its earnings call in May that the multiplayer, free-to-play, microtransaction-based 'Call of Duty' game for China was in development. Continued...