A survey by the Data Center of the China Internet and Internet Society of China expects the number of online gamers in that country to surpass 59 million in 2008.
The projection is a 20 per cent increase from the estimated 48 million online gamers last year, according to a China View news story.
The survey began in January 2007 and polled more than 300 websites, 270 enterprises, and 50,786 persons around the country.
Free-to-play online games services are expected to continue to dominate the market with an estimated 80 per cent market share. The Chinese online gaming market value in 2007 increased 57 per cent from its value of 9.36 billion yuan (USD 1.2 billion) in 2006.
Shanda and Netease, both listed on Nasdaq, were the lead online gaming companies in terms of revenue and the number of subscribers. Giant Interactive, a Shanghai-based company, controls 14 per cent of the market.
Kingsoft and Perfect World are two game developers that recently went public, which the director of the research department conducting the survey refers to as a trend for 2008.