China's online games market will exceed USD 5.5 billion by 2012, according to Pearl Research, which estimated that the market grew more than 63 per cent to USD 2.8 billion in 2008.
The study, entitled "Games Market in China", reported that six online game operators, including Tencent, Changyou, The9, Netease, Shanda and Giant each brought in more than USD 200 million in revenue last year.
"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," commented Allison Luong, MD of Pearl Research.
"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."
China's most popular online games were named, with Netease's Fantasy Westward Journey leading the pack at 1.8 million peak concurrent users, followed by Giant's Zhengtu Online at 1.5 million.
Tencent's Dungeon and Fighter hit 1.2 million concurrent users, while Blizzard's World of Warcraft, operated in the region by The9, came in at 1 million users.