A little over two years ago, shortly before the Stygian Abyss expansion entered its open beta period, Electronic Arts announced that it had entered into a licensing agreement with a Chinese company called NetDragon Websoft, Inc. to develop a new MMORPG based on Ultima Online. The press release stated that NetDragon would develop the new Ultima Online in collaboration with EA's Mythic Entertainment. Also, once the new game was developed, NetDragon would have the exclusive license to operate the new game in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and India. This licensing agreement between EA and NetDragon Websoft followed by approximately eight months an announcement that EA and NetDragon Websoft had entered into a licensing agreement for NetDragon to develop a 3D MMORPG based on EA's Dungeon Keeper line of games. As with the agreement for development of a new Ultima Online MMORPG, NetDragon was granted the exclusive license to operate the game in certain countries, including Greater China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. Dungeon Keeper Online is NetDragon's first 3D MMORPG (others of its earlier MMORPG titles are 2.5D) and it has both an open world element and dungeons, which were developed using different game engines. It is currently in its elite closed beta stage and according to an August press release from NetDragon, is expected to enter public open beta next month and be released by the end of 2011. At this link on the official Chinese website for Dungeon Keeper Online, you'll find a video (mostly in English) where Chris Ondrus of EA describes Dungeon Keeper Online and why EA selected NetDragon to develop it: http://dk.91.com/guide/video/gf_vedio.shtml?vid=7. So, who is NetDragon Websoft, Inc.? According to their own press, they are one of the leading online game developers and operators in the People's Republic of China. The company was established in 1999 (in the Cayman Islands) by Liu Dejian (a 1995 graduate of Kansas State University). Its Vice President and Chief Financial Officer is Chak Man Wu, a 1994 graduate of the University of California (Berkeley) who received his MBA from Duke University. The company has its headquarters in Fuzhou, Fujian, China, and has been listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 2008. NetDragon Websoft develops and operates many MMORPGs and along with its subsidiaries is heavily involved in R&D for online games and mobile Internet business. Their US office is in Diamond Bar, California. Many of NetDragon Websoft's games have been released in multiple languages, including Chinese, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Malay, and Indonesian, and since 2004 they have been operating online games in other countries in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, and Turkish. (Their US portal is at us.91.com and the European portal is at eu.91.com.) They have licensed several of their games with other companies to be operated in countries such as Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and Vietnam. In addition to Electronic Arts, they also have agreements with several other companies to develop online games, including Disney Online, Ubisoft, and Hasbro, Inc. They have also been working with SINA Corporation (a large online media company) to co-develop a stock trading simulation game named "Stock Tycoon." All of their online games currently available in English (e.g., Conquer Online, The Warlords, Eudemons, Zero Online, and Crazy Tao) are free-to-play. They also have done significant in-house development of mobile phone application software for multiple platforms. In April 2011, NetDragon entered into an agreement with DeNA Co., Ltd, which owns a large Japanese mobile SNS website called Mobage Town, to develop games for the Mobage platform. By the end of 2011, the company expects to release English web browser and tablet PC versions of their Conquer Online game. The company has also been recognized in the last several years by Fortune Magazine and Forbes as one of the best companies to work for in China. They jointly invested with IDG Capital Partners to establish the "mFund," a special investment fund targeting China's emerging mobile internet space. As of June 30, 2011, they had 2,139 employees, with 1,364 in R&D and 232 in the mobile internet business. With public open beta testing for World of Dungeon Keeper Online scheduled for next month, I think if it goes well, it will be just a matter of time before we start hearing about closed beta testing for Ultima Online. I fully believe that EA plans to roll out a 3D version of Ultima Online in time for UO's 15th anniversary next year, which leads me to the purpose of this poll! (Finally, you say!) If EA decides to replace the current version of Ultima Online with a brand spanking-new 3D version they developed in collaboration with NetDragon Websoft, would you play the new version? And would your decision be contingent on being able to access in the new version your existing characters and perhaps even their existing houses? Or would you give it a try even if you had to start completely from scratch on brand new, empty servers that didn't necessarily correspond with the current ones? Would your decision be contingent on which company (e.g., Electronic Arts, NetDragon Websoft, or possibly some other company in the business of operating games) actually operates the game in your preferred language and with your preferred localized content? And would your decision be contingent on continuing to have to pay a subscription fee, or would you give a free-to-play (F2P) version a try? I'll have some polling options up in a few minutes....so bear with me please while I try to make them fit!