rumors back in April suggesting that EA was planning on buying a piece of The9 -- a company that handles the management of several MMOs, including our own World of Warcraft, on Chinese shores. While the rumors seemed to come from a credible source -- Chinese newspaper Shanghai Securities News -- EA denied that any such deal had taken place, stating only, "There is no signed agreement with The9." Until, of course, this week, when we find out that there is.
Our friends at Joystiq are reporting that EA is purchasing a 15% stake in The9 and making The9 the sole publisher of EA's FIFA Online in China. What exactly does this mean for Blizzard? Perhaps nothing at all. EA doesn't own near a majority share in The9 -- and with World of Warcraft being a significant part of The9's business, it would seem ludicrous for them to make any major move against it in favor of their new friends at EA. But in EA's quest to grab their own share of the Chinese gaming market, EA now owns a piece of the competition.