While performing research for my dissertation on Chinese Internet Censorship I came accross some interesting facts and figures. According to the 22nd report from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) there are currently 253 million internet users in the country. That is about 13 million more people than in the US.
Of these 253 million people, 58.3% said they spent time playing online video games for a total of 147 million people. Let us compare these figures to those of the US, the CNNIC report states that only 35% of American internet users spend time playing games online. Using the data provided, that means that only 84 million people in the US play games online.
A brief aside, while many leading academics use the CNNIC data in their research, this is an organisation run by the Chinese government. That is just something to remember when you look at those figures.
This data tells us that China is a massive market for games publishers, and it is one that they would be wise to tap into. The past several years have born witness to an amazing growth in the number of internet users in China, it is a figure which has more than doubled since 2005 and is likely to carry on increasing as China becomes more prosperous.
The issue of censorship is, of course, a major issue in China, but we have seen companies such as Google and Microsoft bend to the will of the Chinese authorities, I am sure that many game publishers will be just as willing to do so in order to tap into this rich market.