Is there a point at which oversaturation, cultural prominence and old habits collapse under their own weight? According to a recent survey by Chinese market analyst Niko Partners
, trends are shifting away in China from hardcore MMO gaming to more casual fare like social networking games.
that self-defined "hardcore" gamers in one of the largest MMORPG markets in the world have grown tired of the thousands of carbon-copy MMOs out there and have rebelled against the monotony by taking their business elsewhere.
Niko Partners' Lisa Cosmas Hanson sees a pattern to this trend: "We believe that the Chinese market has taken up SNS (social networking site) gaming in earnest, and that the hardcore gamers have shifted their preferences to include these games alongside the casual gamers who naturally appreciate them. The hardcore gamers are growing weary of the monotony of themes in the Chinese MMORPGs, and they want to extend their social interactions to games that attract a more diverse user base."
By 2014, the analyst says that there will be 141 million online gamers in China, and the casual games market will grow from 23% to encompass 30% of all online revenues -- approximately $3 billion US.