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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - VTC unleashes online gaming title aimed toward a different audience

VTC unleashes online gaming title aimed toward a different audience

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A women plays an online game at home. VTC Online hopes to eat into the online gaming market share of incumbent CIDC when it launches a new game next year to take on the popular Justice X Wars II.

Vietnamese firm targets girls with its new fashion- and music-focused Audition game.

VTC Online plans to launch its online game Audition in the Kingdom next year, the first significant competition to market leader Justice X Wars II (JXII), project manager Li Hai said.

Targeting a young female demographic, Audition’s gameplay centres on “fashion and music”, he said, adding that the title previously found success in Vietnam, VTC’s home market.

“The industry in Cambodia has lots of room to grow,” he said. “We will gauge Audition’s success, and then we plan to introduce more games, maybe action games,” he said.

VTC aims to offer Audition free of charge when the software debuts on an undisclosed date “early next year”.

Li Hai declined comment on how the firm would attempt to turn a profit, but Mike Gaertner, chief operations manager at rival firm CIDC Information
Technology, said free software distribution was a common plank in the business models of Asian software companies.

In fact, CIDC used the approach when it launched JXII, he said. Instead of charging users to purchase or play JXII, CIDC earns income by selling certain items in the online game that provide advantages to the users’ characters. “It’s a novel approach, but it works,” he said.

Launched initially in Cambodia during January 2008, the second version of the action-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORG) was rolled out on Monday. The game appeals to a largely young male demographic, much the same as Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft product, he said.

JXII has over 120,000 active gaming accounts, the most reliable way to track total users, with 10,000 concurrent players online during peak hours, making it Cambodia’s most-played online game.

However, the domestic market still has plenty of room to grow compared with neighbouring countries, Gaertner said. “There are 18 million users in Vietnam, 10 million of whom are gamers. I hope the same thing happens in Cambodia.

“It’s the younger generation driving… Internet innovation in Asia. The growth of domestically available content is in our opinion the driving force for the development of a home user-driven mass market for Internet services in Cambodia.”

JXII and Audition were developed in China and Vietnam respectively, though they are offered domestically in the Khmer language.

Many in the Internet community call for stories set in Cambodia for the domestic market. “If someone could develop for example a game about Angkor, about action in the time of Angkor, it would be good for promoting gaming in Cambodia,” said Hy Borin, a system administrator with Wicam Internet service provider (ISP).

He said he welcomed the increased competition brought by VTC Online.

“They will split the market in half. CIDC will have to respond, and VTC will fight back. It’s a very exciting time for gaming in Cambodia.”

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