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Millions of Chinese to Become Internet Game Players in 2004

More and more Chinese Internet surfers are expected to become game players this year, who will greatly enlarge the already huge number in the Internet game sector.


At the end of 2003, China had a total of 79.5 million netizens, among whom 13.8 million or one fifth are Internet-based game players, Beijing-based Economic Daily reported on Wednesday.


The International Data Corp. has also found that globally 30 out 100 Internet users are game players. So China is quite likely to boast 23.477 million Internet game users this year, according to the company's 2003 report on China's Internet game industry.


This means some 10 million Chinese netizens will become new Internet game players.


China's Internet game sales income last year reached 1.32 billion yuan (US$159 million), up 45.8 percent over 2002 and compared with 380 million yuan (US$46 million) in 2000.


The newspaper foresaw a significant growth rate of China's game market at around 50 percent in the following years.


"Internet game is an industry where you can earn millions even when asleep," Ding Lei, a founder of Netease, was quoted as saying. Last year, an Internet game from the Republic of Korea "Legend" churned out 200 million yuan (US$24.2 million) in the Chinese mainland.


Generally, investment and participation by people from the Asian culture in the Internet games are great. In the Republic of Korea and Japan, the rate is two times the global average, according to insiders.


Under such circumstances, the potential of China's Internet game industry is surprisingly great.


The game industry also boosts other industries of China. Last year, games directly brought 8.71 billion yuan (US$10.5 billion) to the telecommunication industry, 3.5 billion (US$423 million) to IT industry, and 2.64 billion (US$319 million) to media and traditional publishing industries.


The government has well realized the significance of developing Internet games and encouraged the nation to treat it as an independent industry.


But before last year, as a stereotype, domestic companies had worked only as agents or operators of foreign game producers and possessed few core related technologies or copyrights.


Suffering much from the stereotype, some Chinese companies began investing big money to develop self-designed games. Almost at the same time, the government listed a game development project onto the nation's top science and technology list.


However, Chinese Internet games will have to feature Chinese culture, insiders say. In another word, Chinese game developers should consider seriously how to blend Chinese culture with homebred games.


Developers should make more efforts in turning China's both traditional and modern cultural resources into digital products and form an advantage in Internet games, they suggest.


(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2004)




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