More netizens hook into online games
Many more Chinese Internet surfers are expected to become game players this year and greatly enlarge the already huge online gaming sector.
At the end of 2003, one-fifth of China's 79.5 million netizens - a total of 13.8 million people - played online games, the Beijing-based Economic Daily reported recently.
The International Data Corp has also found that globally 30 out every 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 gaming 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 (US159 million), up 45.8 per cent over 2002 and compared with 380 million yuan (US$46 million) in 2000.
According to the Economic Daily, the growth rate of China's game market will stay at around 50 per cent in the next few years.
"Internet gaming is an industry where you can earn millions even when asleep," Ding Lei, founder of Netease, was quoted as saying. Last year, an Internet game from the Republic of Korea called "Legend" churned out 200 million yuan (US$24.2 million) on the Chinese mainland.
Generally, investment and participation by Asian people in Internet games is great. In the Republic of Korea and Japan, the rate is two times the global average, according to insiders.
Under such circumstances, the potential for China's Internet gaming 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 also realized the significance of developing Internet games and encouraged the nation to treat it as an independent industry.
Before last year, becoming the victims of a gaming stereotype, domestic companies worked only as agents or operators of foreign game producers and possessed few core related technologies or copyrights.
In an effort to combat that stereotype, some Chinese companies began investing big money to design and develop new games. Almost at the same time, the government listed a game development project in the nation's top science and technology list.
However, insiders say that to be successful, Chinese Internet games will have to feature elements of the Chinese culture. In other words, Chinese game developers should consider seriously how to blend Chinese culture with homebred games.
Developers should make more efforts to turn China's both traditional and modern cultural resources into digital products and create an advantage in Internet games, they suggest.