Take-Two Interactive (NSDQ: TTWO) is ready to make its first big leap into the online gaming arena, and it’s partnering with Chinese internet and gaming portal Tencent to do it. The publisher has inked a multi-year deal with Tencent to launch the best-selling NBA 2K sports franchise in China. It’s an attempt to capitalize on a number of regional trends: the growing popularity of the NBA in China, the booming Chinese online gaming market (which grew by 61 percent last year to reach $2.75 billion in revenue) and the strength of sports game franchises for online play in Asia (FIFA Online is generating around $1 million in monthly revenues from micro-transactions for EA in Korea).
Take-Two said the game is currently in development, but didn’t give a release date; NBA 2K Online will feature all the current teams and players when it goes live. Tencent is an ideal partner for the launch; the company already runs five massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), in addition to multiple social networks and IM platforms — and it reported Q408 profits and revenues that were up almost 80 percent year-over-year.
Partnering also seems like the best way for U.S.-based publishers to deal with multiple languages, currency conversions and game infrastructures: *Activision Blizzard* subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment, for example, licenses MMOs like World of Warcraft and StarCraft 2 to Chinese portal NetEase. Release.