Revenue from China's online gaming industry reached 8 billion yuan (about 1.04 billion U.S. dollars) in 2006 and could quadruple by 2010 as internet access becomes more widespread.
Online gaming revenue in China will grow 30 percent annually to reach 30 billion yuan (3.9 billion U.S. dollars) by 2010, said Wu Shulin, the deputy director of the General Administration of Press and Publication, on Friday.
The rapid growth in online gaming has created opportunities for telecom, internet, computer, software and consumer electronics firms, which earned 33 billion yuan (4.3 billion U.S. dollars) from online gaming in 2006, according to the official, who attended the 2007 China International Audio-Video and Electronic Publishing Expo in Shanghai on Friday.
Statistics from the China National Network Information Center showed that the number of computers hooked up to the worldwide web had reached 59.4 million by January 2007 and there were 137 million internet surfers.
Young people between the ages of 18 and 30 account for the majority of the estimated 31 million people playing games online in China, according to U.S.-based information technology market research house International Data Corporation (IDC).
Internet cafes across the country are often packed with people playing online games till the early hours.
Previously, American and Japanese games dominated the market, but China-made online games held 65 percent of the domestic market in 2006 and had export revenues of 20 million U.S. dollars last year.
"Navigation World," a game produced by Suzhou Snail Network Game Technology Co., has been successfully exported to Europe and the United States, the first time a Chinese company has entered the "kingdom of games".
Following "Legend of Knights Online", the first online game developed by Beijing-based Kingsoft company in 2003, Chinese game makers have developed over 40 online games.
The Information Industry Ministry has included online gaming in the 2006-2010 plan for software and information service development and will support the healthy development of the industry, according to Wu.