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China's online game revenue surpasses $900 million

China's online gaming giants are bringing in significant dollars--nearly $1 billion in just the third quarter of 2009.

China's online game market grew 39.5 percent in the second quarter of 2009 to $906 million (6.18 billion yuan), according to newly released data from Analysys International.

Online gaming, like many other markets tends to have a few big winners, in the case of China's major game sites, three companies enjoy up more than 50 percent of the market share.

  • Tencent Holdings--20.2 percent of the market and 1.24 billion yuan ($181 million) in revenue
  • Shanda Games--20 percent of the market and 1.23 billion yuan ($180 million) in revenue
  • percent of the market and 780 million yuan ($114 million) in revenue

Tencent makes money from premium instant messaging services, pet penguins (seriously), and page decorations that allow users to customize their game space.

Earlier this year, Pearl Research predicted the Chinese online gaming market would reach $5.5 billion by 2012. At this rate, it's almost guaranteed to go beyond that estimate.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the latest Inside Virtual Goods report predicts that trading in online virtual goods will top $1 billion in 2009. We've certainly seen a big uptick in the purchase and interest in virtual goods--especially in the recession where people are looking for more bite-size gifts.

The report cites Zynga as the leader in the U.S. with revenue estimated at $300 million. Who knew you could make that kind of money selling poker chips, mystery crates, home improvements and flame throwers?