Shanda Interactive is an online video-gaming company catering to Mainland China . It sells MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) such as the titles Archlord, Woool and Mir 2 which tend to sell to hardcore gamers, as well as casual games such as Maple Story and online chess that appeal to a much broader audience.. Shanda also licenses management software to internet cafes in China and is promoting its new “EZ” platform, a home-entertainment set-top box that delivers games and movies without a required subscription.
In 2009, Shanda generated a net income of $233.3 million on revenues of $767.8 million. This represents the first year the company reported its earnings in US dollars.
The company generates revenue in three primary reporting segments.
Woool and Mir 2 are both very old titles, running on older graphics and slowly losing parts of their user base. Gamers are turning to other alternatives, such as World of Warcraft, operated in China by The9 (NCTY), that use more sophisticated 3-D graphics running on newer computers in Chinese internet cafes. It is necessary, but difficult, for the company to find a new "hit" title, and this will be dependent on a number of soft factors that accumulate into end-user appeal.
The free-to-play model works in the case of Woool and Mir 2 because they were old games with large user bases. Since gamers had already spent a large amount of time in the game, they were "invested" in their characters and thus more willing to pay for premium content. The free-to-play model requires these "hard-core" users in order to pay for the operation of servers and to subsidize for the users who are not willing to put additional money into their characters. Acquiring these paying subscribers is dependent on each individual game's popularity, as gamers are less likely to invest in an online-gaming character without other people to socialize with and compete against online. Therefore an unpopular game will not ever recoup its initial capital outlays in the free-to-play model.
Primary competitors are Chinese operators of online-games. Although there is some competition from foreign companies, they are limited by Chinese law from achieving market penetration, since any Mainland Chinese venture has to be more than 50% Chinese owned/operated. Therefore, Shanda’s primary competitors are: