Over the last few years, while the world of online games focused on the success of titles like "Everquest" and "World of Warcraft" and the huge numbers of people playing online in South Korea, little notice was given to the fact that China had become one of, if not the, largest markets of so-called massively multiplayer online games.
Now word comes from the Chinese publication Shanghai Youth that the government in Beijing has decided to invest $1.8 billion in the development of as many as 100 different kinds of online games.
According to the publication, Yu Yongzhan, deputy director with the Press and Publication Administration of China, or PPAC, said the PPAC plans to work in conjunction with departments in other areas of the Chinese government to expedite building game software development centers in several large Chinese cities.
The government's decision to invest the money comes as China has grown to become the second-largest Internet market in the world. More than 103 million Chinese now are online, an 18.4 percent jump over a year ago, said China Daily.
This is all big business, and the Chinese want a piece of it. Apparently, Chinese game players spent about $483 million playing online in just the first half of 2005.