Online games luring more women players

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 November, 2007, 12:00am

More women are expected to join the ranks of online gamers as the market in Hong Kong expands, says a digital entertainment expert.

It follows a survey, commissioned by the Hong Kong Productivity Council, which revealed that online gaming subscriptions had grown from US$30.7 million in 2005 to US$35.93 million last year. It is expected to reach US$41 million this year, a 14.2 per cent increase.

Boris Cheng Chin-wing, director of the China Game Publishers Association (Hong Kong), said the recent development of 'casual games' such as Audition Online and Talesrunner - where the players act as a dancer or a runner - had brought in female gamers.

He said male gamers made up more than 90 per cent of the market as most online games involved fighting and missions.

'But now these casual games have become the favourite of women gamers. They are not required to stay focused for two hours to complete a mission to have fun in these games,' he said.

Mr Cheng said there could be up to 500,000 active online gamers in the city and the market remained competitive.

'Around 20 to 30 new online games are released each year but only 10 per cent of them can result in profits,' he said.

The poll questioned 1,260 employees in 70 firms, covering gaming, computer animations and comics, and digital effects companies in the city from November last year to January this year. Four hundred online gamers also took part.

Meanwhile, the comics and computer animation industry has turned its attention to the mainland market as the local market has reached saturation.

'It will be unrealistic to expect a double-digit market expansion in the comics industry,' said Alan Wan Siu-lun, secretary of the Hong Kong Comics and Animation Federation.

The survey found 36.4 per cent were pessimistic about the future of the comics market in Hong Kong.

About HK$400 million in sales of comics was recorded last year but Mr Wan said 10 per cent of readers had now turned to borrowing comics from rental shops which had further hit the industry.