According to the latest report on Chinese online game users published by the China Internet Network Information Center, the number of online game players in China has reached 55.5 million, but many are considered low-end players.
The surveyed targets of this report were massively multiplayer online role-playing game users who played the games at least once a month, and by the end of December 2008, the number of these users had reached 55.5 million. CNNIC reports that with the growth of the overall scale of Chinese online game users, the ratio of paid users also increased, reaching 76.5%. By the definition of CNNIC, the paid users are those who purchase virtual equipment, virtual currency and online game accounts through official and non-official channels.
The development of the virtual trading market promotes the revenue growth of online games to a certain degree. According to the statistics provided by CNNIC, about 19.6% out of all online game users bought virtual products through non-official channels and the market scale reached CNY10.88 million. The overall scale of China's virtual trading market was estimated at between CNY10 billion to CNY13 billion.
Perhaps disappointingly for digital advertisers and marketers who hope to target gamers in their big budget campaigns, the report revealed that low age, low education and low income were the three features of Chinese online game users. CNNIC said about 52.5% online game users in China were under 22; about 77.1% of online game users held no more than an associate degrees or no graduate degree at all; and about one-third of online game users had no income.
CNNIC said the low-end dominated user structure of the Chinese online game market will not only bring negative effect to the development of the market, but also demands more effective supervision over the online game market, because these underaged and less-educated people can more easily be affected by the virtual environment created by online games. Therefore, CNNIC suggested that the Chinese government implement a more complete supervision and management system to the online game market and provide effective protection to online game users, especially underage users.