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Everyone Wants to Play in Asia

By Rick Munarriz - Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 8:06PM

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EA and Shanda shore up their online gaming businesses.

There's a lot of nibbling going on in Asia's booming online gaming market.

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) is buying South Korea's J2MSoft, the company behind RayCity, TAAN, and Debut. The ad-supported online games are free to play, though gamers are encouraged to pay for virtual items that enhance the multiplayer role-playing experiences.

The purchase follows Shanda Interactive's (NASDAQ:SNDA) announcement earlier this week that the Chinese online gaming pioneer is acquiring stakes in a pair of Web-game community operators in Shanghai.

It's certainly a buyer's market out there. Upstarts looking for cash have few places to turn. Venture capitalists and creditors are awfully stingy with their money these days. Going public is also a tricky proposition, since Giant Interactive (NYSE:GA) -- the last Chinese online gaming company to go public -- has seen its stock cut by more than half of last year's IPO price.

To be fair, Giant is also the only publicly traded online gaming company in China to have posted a decline in revenue in its latest quarter. Shanda smoked past Wall Street's profit targets on Monday. Peers like NetEase.com (NASDAQ:NTES) and Perfect World (NASDAQ:PWRD) are also growing nicely.

Of course, there's a disconnect here. The stocks are getting hammered, even as their fundamentals have never been better. This opens the door for opportunistic buyers looking to expand in the promising Asian market, at a time when their stateside prospects are iffy. EA already has a minority stake in China's The9 (NASDAQ:NCTY). Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) has opted to simply license its online juggernauts through The9 and NetEase, but it's unlikely to let EA go on an Eastern shopping spree unchecked.

In other words, this game is only just beginning.

Other playful diversions for your eyes:

Shanda and NetEase were singled out to Rule Breakers readers nearly four years ago. EA and Activision Blizzard are recommendations for Stock Advisor subscribers. Why are you missing out on these great stock picks? The answer may be waiting in free 30-day passes to either of the newsletters.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been a fan of China's growth stocks for several years now, even though he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Electronic Arts Inc. Stock Quote
Electronic Arts Inc.
EA
$131.16 (1.45%) $1.88
NetEase, Inc. Stock Quote
NetEase, Inc.
NTES
$89.82 (0.49%) $0.44
Giant Interactive Group, Inc. Stock Quote
Giant Interactive Group, Inc.
GA
Activision Blizzard, Inc. Stock Quote
Activision Blizzard, Inc.
ATVI
$80.91 (0.40%) $0.32
The9 Limited Stock Quote
The9 Limited
NCTY
$1.55 (9.15%) $0.13
Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited Stock Quote
Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited
SNDA.DL

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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