NBA 2K Online coming to Asia!

Watch out, the best basketball game on the xbox360, ps3 and the pc is coming to Asia in the form of an online game. Yep, NBA 2K Online is coming to Asian regions. No word yet on features or mechanics.

Read the press release by 2KSports and Chinese online game operator Tencent after the jump

Console games don’t sell across many parts of Asia. Too much piracy. But online games that milk you for microtransactions, they work much better, explaining why the series is going online for a new Asia-only title.

It’s been announced that the popular basketball series is heading to China “and other key markets” in the region, in the form of NBA 2K Online.

The game will see a PC version of 2K go online, and…that’s about all we know, as 2K’s announcement was 100% about the NBA’s popularity in the region and 0% on how the game will actually work.

If they were to announce something along the lines of “you pay to unlock better players and new uniforms”, however, we wouldn’t be surprised.

PR by 2ksports and Tencent
2K Sports today announced its partnership with Tencent Holdings Limited (SEHK: 700) to co-develop the online version of NBA 2K and distribute it to China and other key markets. 2K Sports has secured a multi-year license to develop the online simulation game, which will include all of the NBA teams, as well as current and retired NBA players.

“The incredible popularity of basketball in Asia combined with the love of online games in that region makes this a very exciting project for 2K,” said Christoph Hartmann, President of 2K. “For the first time, 2K is developing an online game combining our expertise in making the best-selling* and top-rated** NBA 2K video game franchise with the proven ability of Tencent for developing and operating highly successful online game communities in China.”

China experienced significant online gaming growth in 2008 and generated $2.75 billion in revenue – a 61% increase from the prior year***. This market is projected to reach $8.9 billion in revenue by 2013, with nearly 120 million people playing games online***.

“The NBA is excited to expand our relationship with 2K Sports to bring an online simulation basketball game to our fastest growing audience in the world,” said Sal LaRocca, Executive Vice President, NBA Global Merchandising Group. “This is a unique opportunity for us to continue to reach our fans and further grow the game of basketball in China.”

The popularity of the NBA continues to grow in China. For the third year in a row, more than one billion viewers have tuned into NBA programming to follow their favorite teams throughout the basketball season.

“This is a landmark agreement for the newly created Take-Two Asia, and all elements are in place to deliver the most successful online sports simulation game China has ever seen,” commented Hubert Larenaudie, President of Take-Two Asia. “In line with our strategic mandate to create a large footprint for our games in Asia, NBA 2K Online will also be released in Taiwan, South Korea and Southeast Asia, where numerous NBA basketball fans are eager to play their favorite sport online.”

Martin Lau, President of Tencent, said, “We are excited about the partnership, through which Tencent can bring this popular PC-based NBA game title to eager online game players, while also creating a new distribution platform for game developers and publishers to reach out to the largest online community in China. China’s online games market is at a nascent stage and we believe that the opportunities are just beginning to unfold. In addition to building partnerships with top game companies in the world, we are positioned to capture this market potential via the execution of our unique platform strategy, which enables us to continue to grow our user base and provide a diversified portfolio of products to game players in China.”

“I’m pleased to announce our first strategic move in what is now the fastest growing online game market in the world,” commented Ben Feder, Chief Executive Officer of Take-Two. “Given the universal appeal of sports, specifically NBA basketball, we believe that our partnership with Tencent to make NBA 2K Online is the perfect entry point for Take-Two into this market. NBA 2K has revolutionized the basketball gaming genre and we are confident that its best-in-breed pedigree can be fully leveraged in China with the support of our valued partners at Tencent and the NBA.”

Tencent is an integrated Internet services company that serves the largest and most active online community in China, which measured 411 million active user accounts and 58 million peak concurrent user accounts (PCU) as of the end of March 2009. Leveraging its huge instant messaging user base, Tencent launched its game portal, QQ Game, in August 2004 and is today the largest online game platform in China. The company is a leading game developer and operator that is committed to delivering an interactive and fun game experience through a diversified portfolio of products to game players in China. Tencent currently operates 67 mini casual games, 5 advanced casual games and 5 massive multi-player online games (MMOGs) on its game platform. It is the first and only game operator in China to have two games reach the 1-million PCU milestone.

* According to The NPD Group estimates of U.S. retail video game sales of Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION 3 NBA titles from October 2008 through May 2009.

** The NBA 2K series, published by 2K Sports, outranked competitors based on GameRankings.com average scores of 2001-2008 NBA video games.

*** Nikko Partners, 2009

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