According to a new study by Arizona-based research firm ABI Research, the worldwide online gaming market will be worth slightly more than $20 billion in 2012. These revenues will be driven by demand in North American, European and Asia Pacific markets, and by new devices and technologies, the firm said.
The Asia-Pac region - most notably China - will be the "engine behind much of this growth."
"According to industry analyst Michael Inouye, "World of Warcraft, for instance, generates significant revenue for Activision in Europe and North America on a subscription basis. But in China, despite a large ‘subscriber’ base, the revenues are far smaller: it's more of a pay-as-you-go model (prepaid game cards). This also creates a greater reliance on ‘cloud’ or server-based games."
The report goes on to say that some of World of Wacraft's lack of penetration in the region has to do with regulation:
"In China, Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere the rules are more exacting in what they allow. Some games for instance, have had to alter their content: using WoW again as an example, the developers had to remove the virtual blood."
The government playing favorites with MMO servicers is also a major factor.
The range of connected devices will also permit gaming on more platforms. The firm uses Free Revolution as an example. Free, a French broadband and IPTV provider, has partnered with Intel to develop a set-top box (Freebox Revolution) that includes an Intel Atom processor, a game controller with gyroscopic inputs, Blu-ray player, powerline adapters, and Wi-Fi. While the box isn't in Asia yet, the device might prove to be popular based on a lower price point than a retail PC and its general ease of use.
This and other findings of the study are available in the report, Gaming in the Cloud.