It looks like the crisis has not hit virtual worlds. At least not in China where the online gaming industry is seeing an increase in sales. Sales – estimated at USD 2.7 billion for 2008 – are even said to outdo the combined revenues generated by films, television and audio-visual products!
The leading firms - Shanda, The9 and Giant – already have annual revenue above USD 200 million and are attracting strong interest from more traditional Internet players like NetEase, a major portal who just won the licence to run World of Warcraft in China. Growth is not about to stop either as the current 50 million online gamers are expected to double by 2013, with new segments including women, parents and even going “abroad”.
But the real question is whether Chinese online companies will be able to copy their counterparts in the real-world and move away from their reliance on the licensing of foreign online games to produce their own games.