Soft Sell - Numbers Game
So-called 'soft' gaming could be the way forward in key online marketsThursday, 19 February 2009
Asia has millions of gamers
One of the great appeals of the soft gaming model, especially in Asia, is the sheer size of the market. There are tens of millions of young people with increasing levels of disposable income. CryptoLogic's Shailesh Naik reckons there are 100 million people in Asia alone with access to either a PC, an Internet enabled mobile phone or both.
In July Taiwan's GigaMedia, which already operates Everest Poker, one of the most commercially successful online poker rooms in the world in revenue terms, announced it had acquired an exclusive three-year licence for Web distribution in China of Electronic Arts Inc's basketball game NBA STREET Online. 'NBA' is consistently the most searched sports term on Baidu.com, the top search engine in China.
In China one of the potential ways of contacting these young consumers is Tencent QQ. This instant messaging and networking site, with its winking cartoon penguin icon, is little known outside China, as its platform program is only available for download domestically.
Yet for its third quarter results in 2008, Tencent QQ's Hong Kong-listed parent Tencent Holdings, claimed the total number of Instant Messaging (IM) user accounts registered within China amounted to a mind boggling 856.2 million, though the number of active IM accounts were a more modest but still huge 355.1 million. Tencent claimed the number of peak simultaneous online user accounts for IM services amounted to 45.3 million, a growth of 7.9% quarter on quarter.
More significant from the perspective of online gaming service providers, is the number of peak simultaneous users of QQ Game portal playing mini casual games. This stood at 4.4 million, the equivalent of almost the entire population of Singapore, and represented an 11.2% growth quarter on quarter. The company said the total number of people paying subscriptions for Internet Value Added Services was 30.3 million, an increase of 16.1% quarter on quarter. Total sign ups for Mobile Value Added Services were 14.8 million, an increase of 10.4% quarter on quarter.