Asia\’s online gaming market to hit $1 billion by 2005

Asia’s online gaming market is set to surpass $1 billion by next year, with most growth coming from China and South Korea, according to market estimates.

International Data Corp. (IDC) reported that China is expected to become the largest online gaming market by 2007.

The availability of broadband and wireless networks is seen as the key to growth.Broadband penetration rates are growing steadily across Asia, fueling online gaming in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea as well as China ó where Internet cafes have broadened its appeal.

“Declining broadband access prices and the rapid adoption of even public wireless local area network access in countries like South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore has further accelerated the online gaming” craze, said Andrew Taylor, a consultant from Axiom Consulting (Hong Kong).

Singapore is considered the third-largest WLAN subscriber market in Asia with 25,000 subscribers in 2003.

Its mobile operators for instance have launched hundreds of wireless hotspots in recent months and are also aggressively promoting cable-free Internet access as a value-added service.

IDC said the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) will see revenue growth from online gaming increase 19 percent on a year-on-year basis through 2008, and exceed $1.84 billion in subscription revenue by 2008. The report added that South Korea is currently leading the region with $397.1 million in subscription revenue in 2003, closely followed by Taiwan with $170.4 million and China raking at $159.7 million.

China appears to have the most growth potential. Its online gaming market grew almost 46 percent in 2003, and in the next two years China’s Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games is expected to dominate its online gaming market.

According to an earlier IDC survey, the popularity of online gaming in Asia has topped online shopping.

It found that in countries like China and Malaysia, for example, the number of online gamers outnumbered online shoppers by a ratio of two to one.