In contrast to the consequences of the one—sided treaties of the original Opium Wars, it's the homegrown companies that are making out like bandits in China's growing online gaming industry. Even veterans of the China scene (like WoW) are losing ground in the battle for a piece of the Chinese market — domestic developers are quickly gaining market shares and an ever—increasing slice of the nearly $US 14 billion USD market:
One Shenzhen gamer, 28-year-old Dong Jun ... said he used to spend 400-500 yuan per month on the immensely popular ... [WoW]but has since initially reduced his expenses with a free game called Chi Bi ....
"With Chi Bi I only pay for upgrades and not many of them," Dong said. "I quit WoW because I was spending too much money on it and it was also ruining my dating life. I like the history and tradition and action in Chi Bi also. It's more familiar."
Another mainland game fanatic, 30-year-old Janson, said he also swore off WoW in favor of free domestically designed games due to financial pressure and his professional work load. "I was paying 200 yuan a month for WoW and too many hours," he said. "It was affecting my job performance."
There's no doubt that the domestic companies are growing by leaps and bounds — and the free —to —play model probably has something to do with that. Will Western companies start changing their business practices to appeal to the hugely lucrative Chinese market? Or will WoW et al. fall by the wayside in the face of an onslaught of domestically produced games?
Profits high from China's online 'opium' [Asia Times Online]