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Gaming recovers after ban

ONLINE gaming firm VTC Online plans to introduce its second title to the Kingdom in September, as the industry shows signs of growth after a police crackdown earlier this year.

ONLINE gaming firm VTC Online plans to introduce its second title to the Kingdom in September, as the industry shows signs of growth after a police crackdown earlier this year.

The firm’s expansion plans were slowed by closures of online gaming centres, the prime venue for the Cambodian computer games industry, following a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen which called for a gambling ban.

In May, however, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith gave permission for video gaming centres to operate, saying that the practice was not necessarily gambling.

“Many gaming centres are now reopening with no problems,” VTC’s Marketing Executive Meas Sokha said yesterday.

VTC Online’s new title Samkok is now set for a September launch.

The game puts users in the role of a king building up a kingdom.

It is accessed through the firm’s website in a similar format to games hosted on the social networking site Facebook.

“I think Samkok will be a big game in Cambodia,” Meas Sokha said.

The game will be free to play, but the company will generate revenue by selling players items that improve their kingdoms.

VTC’s rivals have also seen resurgence in the sector.

Officials at VTC’s largest competitor, Sabay, said yesterday that gaming centres were slowly returning, with around 10 reopening for business each month.

But centres were returning more rapidly in some areas than in others, as local authorities worked to implement regulations, Sabay’s Chief Operations Manager Mike Gaertner explained.

Sabay is also poised to release more games. As the first Cambodian operator of an online game with Justice X Wars II, it is now carrying out late-stage testing of its second game, Attack Online, with an eye to releasing the title later this year.

“There is demand for it,” Mike Gaertner said. “People like the game.”

Up to 500 users were currently able to log on to the game, he said, and the servers were usually full by 7am.

The full release later this year would end restrictions on the number of users.

A separate online game, sharing Samkok’s title, was launched in Cambodia by Metlaor Corporation on Sunday, a Metlaor representative said yesterday.

Backed by an undisclosed Korean investor, Metlaor had originally intended to launch its game in July, but the official release had been postponed to August 8 because of “internet technical problems”, Marketing Manager Sin Vannarith said.

He said that the police crackdown had not affected its business plans.

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