Advanced casual and casual online games made up 21% of the total, and new flash-based casual versions of popular MMO and RTS games demonstrated the hardcore gamers' appetite to play casual games along with subscription MMOs. Online revenue is expected to reach $2.5 billion in 2008 and $6 billion in 2012, for a 29% compound annual growth rate in the five-year period.
"China's spending on games is up thanks to their booming economy," said Lisa Cosmas Hanson, managing partner of Niko Partners. "14 million hardcore Chinese gamers play online games more than 22 hours per week. They play online, LAN, and single-player offline PC games in China's 185,000 Internet cafés and increasingly on their PCs at home, thanks to falling prices and higher disposable income."
According to Niko's 6th Annual Review & Forecast Report, part of an annual subscription of reports for publishers, hardware makers, service providers, and investors who need to understand China's fast-moving video game industry, gamers are buying consoles with their disposable income as well. "In spite of the regulation that has banned the sale of game consoles in China since the year 2000, gamers are flocking to stores that sell illegally imported Wii, Xbox 360, PS3 and PS2 machines to take part in the excitement of console gaming," said Hanson. "While these consoles are expensive for the average Chinese consumer, gamers are willing to spend money on them to supplement their online gaming experience, and unit sales hit 2.48 million units in 2007, up 75% over 2006."
Piracy remains an issue for packaged software via digital downloads and counterfeit copies of games, but legitimate sales of packaged offline PC games surged 56% in 2007, over 2006. Chinese gamers are showing that they like to buy the legitimate copies to ensure quality and to get customer support.