568 Inc. is a China-based company that has developed card and casual games for the Chinese market, as well as a couple of MMORPGs that I've not seen any press about, and Cryptologic (a company specialising in casino software) has just bought a stake valued at $US1.2 million in the company. A lot of Western companies have been trying to make the leap to the potentially really, really, really lucrative Chinese market; the difference with Cryptologic is that they're going after the 'skill based games' sector instead of your average MMO addict. PlayNoEvil notes that this just further blurs the market between online gaming for fun and gaming for profit, and could perhaps open the industry up to more stringent regulation (as if they need it in China).
The agreement enables 568 Inc. and CryptoLogic to establish a new China-based venture that will develop and distribute casual, skill-based games for the local and overseas Chinese-language markets. Games will include single- and multi-player mahjong, poker, online pool, puzzle challenges and approved card games including Chinese poker variants.
Having listened to majiang addicts shuffle their tiles for hours on end (alone, at 4 am, so they can learn the feel of the tiles by nothing more than touch), I'm not sure they need any more ways to gamble away lots of money - though I suppose it will save their neighbours from the sound of swirling tiles, which are louder than you'd probably think.
CryptoLogic Makes Strategic Investment to Further Asian Strategy [Yahoo Finance via PlayNoEvil]