QUOTE AND NEWS
SeekingAlpha  Mar 18  Comment 
By Doug Young: The ongoing cleanup of neglected Chinese firms from U.S. stock exchanges continues, with word that online game developer Giant Interactive (NYSE: GA) has finalized its plan to go private. A report on the bid says that several other...
Benzinga  Dec 10  Comment 
Giant Interactive Group (NYSE: GA) announced today that the special committee (the "Special Committee") of its Board of Directors has retained Morgan Stanley Asia Limited and Duff & Phelps Securities, LLC as its financial advisors. The Special...
Benzinga  Dec 2  Comment 
Giant Interactive Group (NYSE: GA) announced today that, on November 26, 2013, its board of directors formed a special committee (the "Special Committee"), comprised of three independent directors of the Company, Mr. Peter Andrew Schloss, Mr. Andy...
SeekingAlpha  Dec 2  Comment 
By Doug Young: It may be quiet in the U.S. during the Thanksgiving holiday, but shareholder lawyers were hard at work scrutinizing the new management-led buyout offer for online game operator Giant Interactive (NYSE: GA), with at least 2 hinting...
SeekingAlpha  Nov 28  Comment 
By Doug Young: Neglected online game operator Giant Interactive (NYSE: GA) has become the latest Chinese tech firm to launch a privatization bid, leading some to wonder whether other companies in the competitive gaming space may follow. I...
DailyFinance  Nov 28  Comment 
Levi & Korsinsky is investigating the Board of Directors of Giant Interactive Group, Inc. (“GA”) (NYSE:GA) in relation to a going-private offer from the Company’s Chairman, Yuzhu Shi, and an affiliate of Baring Private...
DailyFinance  Nov 27  Comment 
Levi & Korsinsky is investigating the Board of Directors of Giant Interactive Group, Inc. (“GA”) (NYSE:GA) in relation to a going-private offer from the Company’s Chairman, Yuzhu Shi, and an affiliate of Baring Private...
Benzinga  Nov 25  Comment 
Giant Interactive Group (NYSE: GA) announced today that its Board of Directors (the "Board") has received a preliminary non-binding proposal letter, dated November 25, 2013, from the Company's Chairman, Mr. Yuzhu Shi (and certain of his...
Market Intelligence Center  Jun 13  Comment 
Giant Interactive (NYSE: GA) closed Wednesday's trading session at $7.57. In the past year, the stock has hit a 52-week low of $4.20 and 52-week high of $8.64. Giant Interactive (GA) stock has been showing support around $7.28 and resistance in...
Market Intelligence Center  Jun 6  Comment 
Giant Interactive (NYSE: GA) closed Wednesday's trading session at $7.55. In the past year, the stock has hit a 52-week low of $4.20 and 52-week high of $8.64. Giant Interactive (GA) stock has been showing support around $7.02 and resistance in...




 

Giant Interactive Group, Inc. (NYSE: GA) is a Chinese company that develops and operates online video games. Giant was founded in November 2004 and has since developed and released 2 online games, including the massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG), ZT. Giant also plans to launch two new online games in the fourth quarter of 2008.[1] Giant's games are run on two different revenue models: Free-To-Play (FTP) and Pay-To-Play (PTP). The company's free-to-play games (like ZT) are available to gamers to play free of charge, while their PTP games charge players a monthly fee to access and play the game online. Giant earns nearly all of their revenue from online games (99.6% in 2007).[2]

Business Overview

Giant's revenue comes in the form of fees for PTP games and from sales within FTP games. Giant also earns a very small percentage of its revenue from international licensing. Giant has been profitable in the online gaming market, reporting an operating margin of 65% in the second quarter 2008.[3]

The company has seen consistent growth in the number of user accounts as well as in their Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) over the last five quarters.

' 2Q07 3Q07 4Q07 1Q08 2Q08
Active Paying Accounts (000s)1,2481,3181,4051,4471,760
ARPU ($ per quarter) $38.80 $40.90 $42.30 $46.40 $41.70
Source: "Giant Interactiv Announces Second Quarter Earnings Results", page 9.

Products and Pipeline

Giant has released two online games since its launch in 2004. Its first release, "Zheng Tu" (commonly known as ZT,) was officially launched in January 2006 as a FTP online game. Giant's second release, "Giant Online", is a 3-D MMORPG that has a modern military theme.

Zheng Tu (ZT)

ZT quickly became one of the most popular online video games in China, setting a record for peak concurrent users (PCU) in at 2.1 million.[4] ZT is a 2-D MMORPG with a Chinese martial arts theme.
In January 2008 Giant released ZT Online PTP, which is simply a pay-to-play version of the original game. In the PTP version players can pay a flat monthly subscription fee, or an hourly rate. The PTP version does not offer any items for purchase within the game; instead, players advance their character over time. ZT Online ranked as the second most popular MMORPG (measured by peak concurrent users (PCU)) in China as of Q307[5] Below is a list of the top 10 MMORPGs measured by PCU in China as of the third quarter 2007.


Rank MMORPG Rev Model Operator PCU
1 Fantasy Westward Journey PTP NetEase1,470,000
2Zhengtu OnlineFTPGiant Interactive1,073,000
3 World of Warcraft PTP The9665,000
4 AskTao FTP Guangyu Huaxia605,000
5 Realm of Chaos FTP NA550,000
6Westward Journey 2 PTP NetEase505,000
7 World of Legend FTP Shanda470,000
8 Legend of Martial Arts FTP Perfect World450,000
9 Tian Long Ba Bu FTPSohu400,000
10 ZhuxianFTP Perfect World400,000
Source: "Giant Interactive - Correction: Initiating Coverage with a Sector Outperformer Rating and $15.50 PT", CIBC World Markets, January 4, 2008.


Pipeline

In the fourth quarter of 2008, the company will release two more new games, "Empire of Sports" and "King of Kings III." Empire of Sports is a MMORPG in which players compete in soccer, basketball, tennis, skiing, track & field, and bobsleigh.[6] Empire of Sports is the first massively multiplayer online game to include multiple sports games. King of Kings III is another MMORPG that is based on the King of Kings series originally developed in Taiwan. Giant's hope is that the already significant base of King of Kings players (from previous versions developed by others) will be drawn to the newest version of the game upon its release.

Trends and Forces

Broadband Internet Growth

To date Giant has only released games in the MMORPG genre. MMORPGs are inherently internet based games and as such depend upon players to have the ability to access the internet. In large scale gaming platforms connection speed can play an important role in the gamers' experience: slower connections will cause lag in the game play and can be quite frustrating for players. That is, the faster a player's internet connection, the faster the game will run and gaming experience will be more smooth. As broadband connectivity grows more people will have access to internet connections that allow for lag-free gaming in these large scale games. In this sense growth in broadband internet connectivity is good for Giant. As more people gain access to fast internet connections Giant will be able to attract more users and thus generate more revenue from their games. While more players will generate more revenue for Giant, it also means that their gaming platforms will need to support a larger number of users at a time.

Geographical Dependence

Giant is completely dependent on the Chinese internet market. This geographical dependence has the potential to hurt Giant if the internet connectivity growth in China slows. To date, this has not been a problem for Giant -- broadband internet connectivity in China has grown steadily since 2000. From 2006 to 2007 broadband internet users in China grew from 41 million to 56 million, closing the gap between China and the U.S. for the largest broadband market in the world.[7] Furthermore, China has the largest population of targeted consumers in the world with 320 million people between the ages of 16 and 30.[8] The table below shows China's internet growth from 2000-2006. Note: these figures are for total internet connections, not exclusively broadband connections.


Chinese Internet Connections
Beginning of Year Number of Chinese
Internet Users (millions)
Internet Users As a
Percentage of Total Population
200613710.4%
20051037.9%
2004947.3%
2003695.4%
200259.14.6%
200133.72.6%
200022.51.7%

Economic Growth in China

As is the case with broadband internet connectivity growth, strong economic growth will also help to bolster Giant's revenues. The entertainment industry is generally dependent on the growth in disposable income available to consumers. Thus, Giants ability to grow its active customer base (and in turn, revenues) is affected by the growth in the Chinese economy and in disposable income.[9]

Free-to-Play vs. Pay-to-Play

Giant has released games under two revenue models: Free-to-play and Pay-to-play. The FTP model allows gamers to participate in the online game for free, however items can be purchased (using real currency) in the game environment that enable players to advance more quickly. PTP games instead require players to pay a subscription fee in order to participate in the online game. In these games items cannot be purchased within the game. Giant has released versions of its online game ZT under both models. The FTP version of the game has proven to be a successful model for this game, earning greater profits than the widely popular PTP game World of Warcraft (developed by The9 (NCTY)) in China.[10] However, this fact does not necessarily imply that the FTP model will be better suited for all online games -- different games can be more conducive to one model than another based on the game environment. As Giant continues to grow and release more online games their choice of revenue platform for each game will directly impact the revenues they earn from that title.

Competition

As the vast majority of Giant's business is originated in China, the majority of its closest competitors are Chinese video game producers, however, Giant also competes with non-Chinese companies that target the same audience. Giant's major competitors include Shanda Interactive Entertainment (SNDA), Netease.com (NTES), The9 (NCTY), NetDragon, Perfect World (PWRD), GigaMedia (GIGM), Tencent (TCEHF), and Sohu.com (SOHU). Giant is relatively young compared to most of its competitors, but this hasn't stopped the company from growing revenues beyond the industry pace. As seen in the table below, Giant has been able to get more revenue out of each customer, and has earned higher ARPU than its competitors over the last five quarters.[11]

Average Revenue Per User Comparison
Operator 2Q07 3Q07 4Q07 1Q08 2Q08 TTM
Giant Interactiv$295$305.2$308.6$325.1$285.9$306.2
Perfect World$98$136$141$151$188$154
The9$204$186$219$231$243$219.8
Kingsoft$84$93$111$108$102$103.5
SOHU$82$118$149$199$179$161.3
GigaMedia$74.8$81.4$75.5$81.2$81.7$79.9
Source: "Giant Interactive Group - Initiating Coverage", Brean, Murray Carret & Co. Equity Research, September 4, 2008.


Giant has also shown strong margins in comparison to its competitors posting an Operating Margin of 65% in the second quarter of 2008.

Margin Comparison
Gross margin Operating Margin
Operator2Q08TTM2Q08TTM
Giant Interactiv89.20%88.10%65.00%67.00%
GigaMedia79.00%78.00%23.60%23.10%
Netease.com82.50%82.80%62.70%59.90%
Perfect World87.60%86.30%53.30%52.30%
The947.30%46.40%26.00%29.00%
Sohu.com76.10%73.30%36.00%31.00%
Source: Analyst report: "Giant Interactive Group - Initiating Coverage", Brean, Murray Carret & Co. Equity Research, September 4, 2008.


Market Share

Giant held a 3.25% market share (measured in clicks) during the second quarter of 2008.[12]

Market Share by Clicks
Company 2Q08
Giant3.23%
Netease10.50%
The93.15%
Perfect World3.65%
Shanda2.49%
Gigamedia3.33%
9you24.68%
Tiancity10.08%
Netdragon5.31%
Sohu3.96%
Tencent10.68%
Guangyu Huaxia4.86%
Source:"Giant Interactive Group - Initiating Coverage", Brean, Murray Carret & Co. Equity Research, September 4, 2008.


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References

  1. Giant Interactiv Factsheet, www.ga-me.com/factsheet.php, Page 2, Retrieved October 28, 2008.
  2. Giant Interactive Announces Second Quarter Earnings Results, Giant Interactiv Earnings Announcements (Company Website), May 15, 2008, Page 9.
  3. "Giant Interactive Group, Inc. - Initiating Coverage", Brean, Murray, Carret & Co., September 4, 2008.
  4. "Giant Company Profile", www.ga-me.com.
  5. "Giant Interactive - Correction: Initiating Coverage with a Sector Outperformer Rating and $15.50 PT", CIBC World Markets, January 4, 2008, Page 10.
  6. Empire of Sports, www.ga-me.com.
  7. "China overtaking US for fast internet access as Africa gets left behind",www.guardian.co.uk, June 14, 2007.
  8. "Giant Interactive - Correction: Initiating Coverage with a Sector Outperformer Rating and $15.50 PT", CIBC World Markets, January 4, 2008, Page 3.
  9. "Giant Interactive - Correction: Initiating Coverage with a Sector Outperformer Rating and $15.50 PT", CIBC World Markets, January 4, 2008, Page 3.
  10. "Giant Interactive - Correction: Initiating Coverage with a Sector Outperformer Rating and $15.50 PT", CIBC World Markets, January 4, 2008, Page 3.
  11. "Giant Interactive Group - Initiating Coverage", Brean, Murray Carret & Co. Equity Research, September 4, 2008, Page 9.
  12. "Giant Interactive Group - Initiating Coverage", Brean, Murray Carret & Co. Equity Research, September 4, 2008, Page 9.
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