Gamasutra's "China Angle" column has a new look at the changing face of gaming in China's heartland. While most of us in the West think of China's biggest cities - Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai - the vast majority of its people live in less-developed and semi-rural areas. In the biggest cities, the net cafes are facing extinction as laws tighten and people purchase the means to enjoy internet connectivity at home. In these more rural areas, though, the internet cafes remain the primary means of accessing the web. The article goes on to say that wealthy young people in these areas are particularly drawn to MMOs - sometimes the only form of amusement in particularly remote areas.
Giant Interactive, the Chinese gaming powerhouse headed by Shi Yuzhu, has tapped into this by connecting the social aspects of MMOs with more traditional social networking. The company has apparently invested in the site 51.com, with the hopes of getting some of their players together offline as well as on-. China Angle author Frank Yu notes that the company is a likely to have a lot of success in this endeavor, as it has proven especially cunning at promoting online services in the past. In-cafe representatives will touch base with future customers, and (they hope) continue to improve the online lifestyle of China's heartland.