Using a unique payment system, Shanghai-based publisher Shanda has announced that over 1 million people are playing NCSoft’s popular MMO Aion.
Late in 2007, Shanda struck a deal with NCSoft that would allow it to operate the game across China. This deal is said to have cost Shanda around £20 million.
The publisher then decided to establish a new model for the game in China, where users had to purchase physical time cards which afforded more hours playing the game; essentially making it an extended version of the classic arcade cabinet system.
That system seems to have paid off, with Shanda confirming that some 1 million users in China are currently buying time cards to play. As of April 16, users are paying 0.48 Renminbi (5p / 7¢) each hour to play the game.
Shanda is also now a strategic investor of NCsoft's Chinese subsidiary, NCsoft China.