The online games market in China grew by 35 per cent to a net worth of $3.9 billion in 2009, according to a new report by consulting firm Pearl Research.
Excerpts from the new study "Online Games Market in China" include a predication that the Chinese online market will exceed $6 billion by 2012.
The total number of Internet users in China stood at 384 million by the end of 2009, with a 29 per cent penetration rate. Pearl Research estimates that around 70 per cent of China's Internet users are under the age of 30.
"Similar to the US, a major trend in China is the growth of social networking sites such as QZone, Renren and Kaixin001, all of which host social games, which is discussed in the report," said Pearl Research MD Allison Luong.
"These games are starting to cannibalise some of the advanced casual games on the market," she added.
Chinese game operators also saw strong growth in 2009, with Dungeon & Fighter publisher Tencent recording revenues of $792 million, Shanda Games $704 million, Fantasy Westward Journey publisher Netease $493 million, Perfect World $314 million and Changyou $268 million.
The report also highlights the increased regulation of virtual sales by the Chinese government, with virtual currency now only legal for virtual item purchases. Game operators are also no longer allowed to give away virtual items or currency though lottery-based promotions.