As soon as 2010The big MMOs of our time, like World of Warcraft from Blizzard or Warhammer Online from Mythic, need to re-orient themselves to attract as much of the Chinese market as possible, otherwise they run the risk of becoming irrelevant.
A recent study from Interfax China, a business news organization and research group, says that the amount of money generated by the online gaming industry of the Communist state will reach 18.21 RMB or 2.67 billion dollars sometime in 2010. The report is called “China Online and Mobile Gaming 2008-2010” and paints a picture of around 120 companies registered as gaming operators that are running about 200 online games. They made 1.5 billion dollars in 2007 and are set to reach 1.86 billion in 2008.
The biggest operators are Shanda, Giant Interactive, NetEase and The9, the company which has the right to operate World of Warcraft in China. Casual and web games are almost as popular as high budget MMOs in the country and they seem to have the biggest potential for growth.
Interfax says that “In-game advertising is a hot spot for generating revenue, which is especially true for the free-to-play online gaming model that has gained popularity among many Chinese gamers.” The report also states that “The government is concerned over the content of the games enjoyed by large numbers of China's youth, which may contain violence, gambling and [mature content], and policy making decisions will likely focus around these issues.” Growth can only happen if the central Communist authorities are somewhat less strict in enforcing rules and regulations.
It seems that more women are now playing online games and more non-urban residents are playing using the Internet. This shift in the profile of players means that big budget games will also need to adapt to attract the new demographics.