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Tencent to publish FIFA Online 3 in China (update)

Electronic Arts and Tencent have signed an agreement to publish FIFA Online 3 in China, EA announced today.

Details are scarce at the moment; EA said the two companies will provide more information in a joint press release soon. During an investor call this afternoon, EA chief operating officer Peter Moore described the relationship with Tencent with superlatives, saying, "The world's biggest online publisher is bringing the world's biggest game to the world's biggest market."

FIFA Online 3 is a Windows PC-exclusive massively multiplayer online version of EA's massive soccer franchise. The game launched last fall in Korea, where it is published by Nexon. According to EA, FIFA Online 3 is the country's top online game by traffic and revenue, and its revenue in the company's first fiscal 2014 quarter was up 88 percent on a non-GAAP basis from FIFA Online 2 a year ago.

Update: Beta testing for the Chinese version of FIFA Online 3 is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2013, said EA and Tencent in a press release issued July 24. The game will bear the official FIFA license and feature nearly 15,000 real-life players from 30 leagues and 40 national teams. Developed by EA Seoul Studio, which is already making the Korean version, FIFA Online 3 will support up to five-on-five play.

Tencent will also operate FIFA Online 3 in Thailand and Vietnam.

"The launch of FIFA Online 3 will provide strong momentum for the development of eSports in China and create a true 'virtual world of sports' for all Chinese users," said Tencent vice president Steven Ma.

"FIFA Online 3 is a new opportunity for EA in China. This is a great chance to bring one of our most globally recognized and popular franchises to the excitement of the Chinese gaming market," added Bernard Kim, senior vice president of social and mobile publishing at EA.