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Internet games on the rise
www.chinaview.cn 2006-01-12 09:04:24

    BEIJING, Jan.12 -- The number of Chinese online gamers maintained a robust growth in the past year, almost doubling the growth of overall Internet users, according to a report released by the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and US research house International Data Corporation (IDC) yesterday.

    A total of 26.34 million people played online games last year, 30 per cent higher than in the previous year, said Kou Xiaowei, deputy director general with the audio and visual, electronic and Internet publication department with GAPP, yesterday at the second China online games conference in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province.

    The growth is compared with an 18.4 per cent growth rate in overall Internet usage. China had 103 million 'netizens' by the end of June, 2005, ranking it second in the world after the United States.

    The rapid growth of online gamers generated 3.77 billion yuan (US$468 million) last year, compared with 2.46 billion yuan (US$305 million) in 2004.

    Ding Lei, chief executive officer of the most profitable Chinese online games provider NetEase.com, said the revenue from massive multiplayer online role-play games could well exceed 1 billion yuan (US$120 million) when the 2005 figures are confirmed.

    Other industries also benefited from the increase in gamers. Telecom and information technology industries have received revenues of 24.5 billion yuan (US$3 billion) and press and publication industries recorded 3.71 billion yuan (US$460 million) as a result of online games.

    "Last year marked a significant turnaround for the online games industry," said Kou.

    In 2005, domestic games companies gained a lot of ground, with their market share exceeding 60 per cent. Their number rose from 73 in 2004 to over 120 the following year, and the number of games titles grew from 109 to 192. More than 12,000 engineers now work in the industry, tripling the number since 2004.

    With so many companies in the market, the competition becomes more and more intense.

    "The competition is tougher than expected. It now poses a serious challenge to the traditional subscription model," said Zhao Xiaoming, president of Beijing-based 17game.

    He said game operators must work out new business models, instead of only focusing on subscriptions.

    The biggest developer, Shanda Interactive Entertainment, announced in November that gamers could play two of its most popular games for free in a move to attract more players amid fierce battles to win players.

    (Source: China Daily)

Editor: 朱白桦
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