The number of China's online gamers is expected to surpass 59 million in 2008, up 20 percent from last year's 48 million, according to a nationwide survey released on Monday.
The "Netguide 2008" survey, begun in January 2007 by the Data Center of the China Internet and Internet Society of China, polled more than 300 websites, 270 enterprises and 50,786 interviewees around the country.
It also reported that in China the market value in 2007 witnessed a 57-percent increase compared to previous year's 9.36 billion yuan ($1.2 billion).
Giant Interactive, a Shanghai-based company that offers multiplayer online role playing games, became the last year's third biggest gainer with a 14-percent market share.
The Nasdaq-listed Shanda and the popular portal Netease, which has added online gaming to its services, maintained the lead in 2007 by revenue and number of subscribers.
Other renowned game developers such as Kingsoft and Perfect World went public, indicating a trend in 2008, said Fu Zhihua, director of the DCCI research department that conducted the survey.
Free-to-play online games services, instead of the fee-based model, would continue to dominate the market with an estimated 80-percent market share, the survey showed.
(Xinhua News Agency January 22, 2008)