Global economic turmoil wasn’t enough to keep the Chinese online game market down in 2008.
In its "Games Market in China" study, San Francisco-based Pearl Research said the online games market in China grew over 63 percent in 2008 to $2.8 billion. The firm projected that the market will grow to $5.5 billion in 2012.
Pearl said Chinese game operators are optimistic about the years ahead, saying the global economic downturn has had little impact on their businesses, as games are "small-ticket" items that people are still willing to buy.
The most popular online game in China is Netease’s Fantasy Westward Journey, which reached over 1.8 million peak concurrent users. Following that title is Giant’s Zhengtu Online (1.5 million users), Tencent’s Dungeon Fighter (1.2 million) and Blizzard’s World of Warcraft (1 million).
Pearl also said there are six game operators in China that have crossed the $200 million revenue mark: Tencent, Changyou, The9, Netease, Shanda and Giant.
About 70 percent of China’s 298 million Internet users are under 30 years old, Pearl said.
Pearl’s Allison Luong elaborated on the study. “Trends to track in 2009 include the growth of social networking sites in China, with over 55 million users, and their cross-pollination with games.
"One overall concern is the lack of diversification with many game operators relying on a single title for the bulk of revenues.
"In addition, a glut of content with more than 200 games on the market, makes releasing a breakout hit increasingly difficult.”