The online gaming sector will become mature in China in the coming three years and growth will be enormous with rising demand and the improvement of the broadband network and domestic game developers, predicted a senior analyst with CCID Consulting Co Ltd.
"Online gaming has become a bright star of the IT industry in terms of its growth potential," said Chen Wen, an analyst at CCID, one of the biggest information technology market research firms in China.
According to the firm's forecasts, online gaming will grow at an average rate of 115 per cent in the next three years.
Chen said the market will reach 700 million yuan (US$84.5 million) including sales of game disks and expenses paid for gaming time, compared with 325 million yuan (US$39 million) generated last year.
"The real breakthrough will come in 2004, with more games, players and popularity of broad band network," she said.
The company predicted that the online gaming population would grow from 5.7 million people in the first half of this year to 9.7 million by year's end.
The figure will double again next year to 14.3 million players, she added.
Paying for playing will also become a trend, which will ease gaming providers' worries about profits and attract more businesses, Chen said.
"With the reception of paid email, people's ideas of gaming are changing," Chen said.
According to some insiders, China's' biggest gaming website Ourgame.com is already pondering charging fees for its use.
(China Daily August 6, 2002)