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Internet in China: Online Gaming & “Gold Farming”

More that 20 million Chinese play online games, and the e-commerce revenue have grown 50% in relation to last year’s numbers.

According to the China Internet Network Information Center, by last June, the population of Internet users in China was over 123 million — 63% of those people have broadband access. More that 20 million Chinese play online games, and the e-commerce revenue have grown 50% in relation to last year’s numbers.

Estimates of the revenue of the online gaming industry point to a total of 1.3 billion dollars by 2009, an annual growth of 35%, according to IDC. Such development ended up pushing the numbers of other sectors up. Online games brought 17.3 billion Yuan (2.14 billion dollars) to the industry, 7.1 billion Yuan (887.5 million dollars) to the industry, and 30 million Yuan (3.7 million dollars) to the industry.

Unlike American consumers — who usually pay US$ 50 to buy a new game — players in China, where software piracy is still an issue, are willing to pay little for their games. Therefore, game developers have to devise creative ways to generate revenue: according to Bill Bishop, CEO of Red Mushroom Studios, one of the fastest growing areas of the game business in China selling online gear for game characters.

The gaming culture in China is even creating new professions: in Liaozhong, colleting virtual items of online games has become income source for many young people. Even some of the most conservative estimates might say that these so-called gold-farmers bring in around 200 million dollars a year in this underground industry.

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Director of Design Strategy at SAP and lecturer of Project Management for UX at the M.Sc. Usability Engineering at the Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences .

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar has helped truly global companies in multiple continents create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

Itamar holds a MA in Design Practice from Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK), for which he received a Distinction Award for his thesis Creating Innovative Design Software Solutions within Collaborative/Distributed Design Environments.

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