The organisers of the Asia Game Show, Hong Kong's biggest computer games event, are hoping that an increase in promotional activities will help boost this year's attendance figures despite the weakness of the technology sector. Show organiser Adsale Exhibition Services expects 200,000 visitors this year, 33 per cent more than last year. Wendy Lai Sze-wai, marketing manager with Adsale, said the promotion budget for the Christmas show, which will run from December 24 to 28 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, has been raised from HK$3 million to $4.5 million. Technology trade shows across the region this year have either been cancelled or severely cut back as a result of the Sars outbreak, some long after the outbreak was brought under control. But Ms Lai said Sars had not discouraged exhibitors from attending the Asia Game Show. 'Actually, during the Sars period, sales of home entertainment devices such as DVDs and games ran up, as people were forced to stay home.' About 50 exhibitors have joined the show, the same number as last year. But there are fewer academic groups, and more for-profit organisations, sensing real money-making opportunities. The organisers reported $50 million in sales at last year's event. Ms Lai said Adsale expected the figure to be up a further 20 to 30 per cent this year. The largest exhibitor is Sony Computer Entertainment, which is setting up a booth along with about a dozen game makers, including Atari, Capcom, Sega, Electronic Arts and Namco. However, makers of the other two popular gaming consoles, Microsoft (Xbox) and Nintendo (GameCube and GameBoy), will be absent from the event. Like last year, the show will mix elements of a trade show with a public carnival. Canto-pop singer Kelly Chen Wai-lam has been chosen to promote the event to its main target audience - teenagers and young adults. She will open the show driving a specially designed racing car. Other youth idols such as the nine-member girl group Cookies will also appear. In addition, costume, beauty and gaming prowess contests will be held. 'About 100 contestants dressing as comic or animation characters will come to the show each day,' Ms Lai said. 'This will be a special attraction that can be found in no other place.' Gamers will get the chance to try out two racing car simulators that have been shipped from Tokyo. Nine Japanese game producers will come to the event, including the producer of Sony's hugely popular racing game Gran Turismo 4. Limited edition PlayStations and new game titles will be launched in the event. The emergence of wireless gaming has created a variety of revenue-generating opportunities for wireless carriers, handset providers, and game developers and publishers. Following the success of Nintendo's GameBoy, which has dominated the mobile gaming market since its introduction in 1989, Nokia recently launched its N-Gage mobile phone and gaming system. Reflecting the arrival of a new range of gaming companies this year, a new mobile interactive entertainment section has been added to the show. Its exhibitors include Nokia and Sunday Communications. Ms Lai said that online games involving multiple players engaged in adventure or combat-type games were also a growing trend in Asia. 'Online games are popular in countries where broadband penetration is high, such as Korea, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong,' she said. According to IDC, online gaming in the Asia-Pacific region was worth US$533 million in subscriptions last year, with Korea ($289 million) and Taiwan ($138 million) representing two of the world's largest online gaming markets.