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Chinese online gamers turn on to 'Fantasy Westward Journey'

After drawing in a record 2.6 million people on one single day at the start of the month, the Chinese-produced online game Fantasy Westward Journey has now established itself as the leading multi-player game in China.

Fantasy Westward Journey (http://corp.163.com) now has an estimated 250 million registered users, according to Chinese media reports, knocking the joint American-Chinese developed World of Warcraft (http://www.wowchina.com) from its lofty perch as the most popular game among the local internet masses.
WoW has long come under fire from Chinese authorities for its less than "harmonious'' content but not so FWJ.

FWJ is based upon the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West and follows the travels of a priest and his three companions, including the fabled Monkey King. The story was first put into print in the 1590s and in its original form is still the most popular piece of Chinese literature there is.

Both games have been developed by the Chinese online game provider NetEase and while WoW goes for a much darker world of dragons and ghosts, FWJ has a more child-like cartoon feel which is keeping the Chinese authorities happy.

Buoyed by the growing success of FWJ, which was first released in 2004, NetEase last month put out a version of the game featuring local pop star Jay Chou, who will have his first Hollywood film released - the US$90 million (72 million euros) budgeted action flick The Green Hornet starring Seth Rogan and Cameron Diaz - at the start of 2011.

The company is currently working on updating the game's graphics and is hoping to have another version ready for net-heads within a month.

NetEase last week released another locally produced online fantasy game, Wizard Ranch. Access to the new game can again can be found via http://corp.163.com