Massive server purchase likely in Chinese Warcraft deal

World of Warcraft's current operator in China could be left with a pack of idle blade servers

Chinese online game firm NetEase.com will buy all-new servers to start operating World of Warcraft in China this year, potentially leaving masses of unused computing clusters in the hands of the current Chinese operator.

NetEase will distribute and run the game in China for three years after current operator The9's license expires in June. NetEase announced the deal with Blizzard Entertainment, the game's U.S. owner, on Thursday.

NetEase will need massive servers for the extremely popular game. Chinese Internet cafes are often packed with teenagers who chain-smoke as they play the game for full days or nights.

But NetEase will not buy any equipment from The9, instead buying new servers to run the game, a NetEase spokeswoman said by phone Friday.

The9 declined to comment when asked how it will use its servers when they are no longer needed for World of Warcraft. The servers could be used for other games The9 operates, but World of Warcraft brought the firm over 90 percent of its revenue in 2006 and 2007, according to its most recent annual report.

The9 owns an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 servers, and most are probably the high-performance blade servers that Blizzard requires for its online games, according to Thomas Zhou, an analyst at IDC.

Two of The9's blade servers made a list of the 100 most powerful computers in China last year compiled by the Specialty Association of Mathematical & Scientific Software, an industry association.

Six blade servers owned by an unnamed gaming company made the top 50, highlighting the computing power needed in the industry.

The9 will likely seek new uses for its servers as they would be difficult to sell, said Zhou.

Blade servers have a small market in China. About 40,000 are sold each year, mainly to online game firms, oil companies and science institutes, said Zhou. Selling them secondhand could be a challenge when firms in most industries use less advanced tower or rack servers, he said.

NetEase owns even more servers than The9 but will likely have to buy at least 1,000 new blade servers to take over World of Warcraft, Zhou said.

The servers The9 bought for the game may create expenses on its balance sheet even after the game moves to NetEase.

In 2007 The9 started spreading the cost of its server purchases over four years on its balance sheet to match the revenue it planned to make back from them, according to its annual report. If The9 keeps that practice, any servers it bought in the second half of that year or later would generate expenses until well after it loses World of Warcraft.

(Sumner Lemon in Singapore contributed to this story.)

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags world of warcraftgaming newsserversChina

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Owen Fletcher

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?