We've been mentioning a bit about some of the regulatory issues in China affecting massively multiplayer online games, particularly as they concern some Western game companies. However, a number of gamers in the West have wondered something along the lines of, "What does this have to do with me?" Well, in terms of Western markets directly, not much. But China is significant for the MMO industry seen as a whole.
China will be the world's largest MMO market moving forward and as broadband speeds and penetration increase, the numbers of online gamers will keep rising. The current regulatory changes put forth by China's General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) stands to have a major impact on how online games are operated in this market, ranging from implementation of a "fatigue system" (where play time is limited each day) to censorship of game content. The country has over 55.5 million online gamers, with a total market for virtual transactions between USD 1.4 billion and 1.9 billion (RMB 10-13 billion), according to 2008 statistics released by the China Internet Network Information Center (as reported in English by JLM Pacific Epoch).