Revenues from online games in China have almost doubled over the past year, new research has claimed.
The market was worth $353m in the second quarter of 2007, a year-on-year increase of more than 185 per cent, according to Shanghai-based analyst firm iResearch.
Estimates from various sources put the number of online games players in China at between 30 and 60 million.
Although the market has grown substantially over the past 12 months, the value actually shrank slightly in the first half of 2007 as total revenues fell 5.4 per cent from a peak of $373m in the first quarter.
As smaller firms drop out of contention in the country's increasingly competitive online games industry, three local companies now hold more than 53 per cent of the market.
Shanda Interactive Entertainment, China's leading games firm, has a 20.5 per cent market share, according to iResearch.
Shanda, which earns almost all its revenues from games and games-related products, reported earnings of $54.6m in the second quarter.
Online games playing is growing fast in China and other Asian countries that have a "large youth population and have experienced a rapid rise in internet and PC penetration, in addition to increasing urbanisation", analysts from US-based Pearl Research wrote in a study of Asia's online games market published last month.
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