Asia's online gamers trounce shoppers

Playing games has beat out shopping for popularity among Internet users in the Asia-Pacific region, according to market researcher IDC.

Online gaming has beat out Internet shopping for popularity in the Asia-Pacific region, according to market researcher IDC.

A recent survey of more than 3,600 Internet users across six Asian countries shows that the boom is especially evident in China and Malaysia where the number of online gamers outnumber shoppers two to one.

In China, for example, 43 percent of those surveyed said they play games online, compared with 16 percent who said they shop over the Net.

This sea change is also mirrored in Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and India.

Of the six countries surveyed, however, India showed the lowest penetration of Internet use with 15 percent saying they play games online and 13 percent saying they shop.

"The past year has seen the industry transitioning from an initial phase of development into a more mature market," said Chin Jun Fwu, IDC Asia-Pacific's analyst for software research.

"It is a remarkable milestone to have the number of online gamers surpassing online buyers in several countries within one year," he added.

Online gamers vs. online buyers


  43%  16% 

  29%  11% 

  39%  25% 

  50%  43% 
 Hong Kong

  35%  19% 

  15%  13% 
SOURCE: IDC Asia-Pacific
While the Internet gaming surge has largely stemmed from the appeal of massive multiplayer games, IDC said the industry is also moving toward easy-to-play family-oriented games to engage people of different age groups.

Males continue to dominate the regional online gaming scene. However, the gender disparity is narrowing significantly in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Korea. Females in these countries account for 48 percent, 47 percent and 36.5 percent of all online gamers, respectively.

The spike in Internet games is also a boon for broadband usage.

"The study confirmed online gaming is and will be a main market driver for broadband adoption,? Chin said. "In more mature markets such as Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, broadband penetration is exceptionally high among online gamers."

CNETAsia's Winston Chai reported from Singapore.

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