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Online game firms predict growth

CHINESE online gaming firms, including Shanda Entertainment and Giant, will continue to spend more on platforms, talent and game innovation, despite the slumping economy.

The Chinese games industry will almost maintain its 50 percent annual growth in 2009, triple the growth rate of the IT industry, analysts said.

Shanda, the country's biggest games firm, aims to invest 1 billion yuan (US$147 million) in home-grown game development within the next three years. Shanda's games have about 70 million players. The firm has started to provide sales and promotion resources to other Chinese games designers on a profit-share basis.

"We will continue to offer this policy of openness and cooperation and provide resources to our partners, especially in this tough environment," Wang Jingying, Shanda's vice president, said at a conference between Shanda and Storm Entertainment.

At present, Shanda has done business with Kingsoft Corp and Storm Entertainment.

Dealing with Shanda allows the other companies to focus on research and save costs, said Zhu Weilian, Storm Entertainment's chairman and chief executive.

In 2009, China's games industry revenue is expected to hit 31.1 billion yuan, a growth of 49.7 percent from last year. In 2008, the revenue was 20.7 billion yuan, 52.2 percent growth from 2007, according to iResearch Inc, a Shanghai-based IT consulting firm.

Giant Interactive Group announced last week it would be increasing salaries, with average increases to all employees of 14 percent. Some workers will get 30 percent raises. The salary increases will be focussed on the company's research and development department.

By the end of the third quarter of 2008, Shanda led the Chinese games market with an 8.6-percent market share, followed by's 6.4 percent and Giant's 5.4 percent, according to iResearch.



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