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Report: Internet Cafes Still Key Driver Of Asian Game Market
Report: Internet Cafes Still Key Driver Of Asian Game Market
March 22, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

March 22, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
More: Social/Online, Business/Marketing

A new report from Pearl Research highlights the continued importance of Asia's more than 350,000 internet cafes in providing access to online games for millions of players.

Internet cafes remain popular in Asia because of their relatively low cost, which generally ranges from 20 cents to $1 an hour across China, India and Vietnam, Pearl's Allison Luong told Gamasutra. Internet cafes in Korea tend to charge a bit more, but are still popular for playing titles like NCSoft's Aion, even though over 82 percent of Koreans own a computer in their home.

In China, internet cafes tend to be larger -- the market has grown to include 9,000 square foot complexes with over 200 PCs each. One of these complexes can bring in upwards of $500,000 a year, Luong said, driven largely by the popularity of social games from Tencent, including tactical FPS Crossfire.

The Chinese government is encouraging this increased scale, Luong said, by requiring internet cafe chains to operate at least 30 locations across three or more provinces, and maintain operating capital of over $7.7 million.

India and Vietnam, on the other hand, tend towards smaller internet cafes, averaging less than 20 PCs per location according to Pearl. Vietnamese internet cafe players tend towards locally produced games like VNG's The Swordsmen, Luong said, while Indian gamers tend to enjoy games found on local and international gaming portals.

"For game operators and publishers, working with internet cafes requires a multi-prong strategy including a dedicated sales team, pricing bundles and special marketing and promotions," Luong said.

The full “Internet Cafes in Asia” report provides more details on Asian internet cafes, including market size, growth drivers and strategic conclusions.

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Joe McGinn
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Is it that hard to understand? Anyone who's ever LAN gamed knows that multiplayer WITH other people is exactly one thousand times more fun than network-based gaming. And since the Chinese are almost exclusively multiplayer gamers, it's not hard to see how it's more fun to go out for gaming.

Besides, these places are not the holes you might thing. The PCs all work, plus there are nicer "lounge areas" with more room, comfy chairs, and more powerful PCs. You can get drinks and food served. It's sociable and it's fun. Certainly more fun than network gaming over, say, XBox Live.

Sun Moon Hwang
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i agree with this idea here. You guys wouldn't believe how tasty the noodles they make at Korean internet cafes.

Joe McGinn
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>> Besides, these places are not the holes you might thing. <<

Having said that, the Shanghai government warned just this morning that "young people with unhealthy diets who stay up all night gaming" are experiencing high rate of tuberculosis (but also admit the poor ventilation in many cafes is to blame).

Caveat emptor! ;-)

Gisow Tseng
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Other reasons for internet cafe cultures to prevail:

1. They're cheap: most players in China are workers in manufacturing facilities or huge labor required industries. They don't own a private place to live. They often have to share there room with other colleagues and there wouldn't be an internet servie provided. So, if you want to play WoW, you would have to get your own internet service, get your own PC, get your own peripherals required, do your own maintainance. Comparing to what internet cafes offer and for the price it requires, it's actually a pretty sweet deal.

2.They're convenient for socializing with friends:

By stating the living environment for the majority of players above, you could see that playing with friends is not a easy task. Even if you got(or willing to spend on) what it takes to play PC games, your friends might not. So, going to internet cafes with your buddies after work and occuping a small area to shoot up stuff together is as same as what Western folks do when they go to bars or pubs after work.

I 've worked in China for two years in industrial areas. So the above info provided comes from past experience.

Cordero W
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I figured it had something to do with their way of government. It's basically what you said: it's the work and social environment that makes internet cafes work over there. However, over here, they're pretty expensive for the value. You can pay $20 to use an internet cafe over here for an entire day. Go there seven times a week, that's $140. Multiply that by four which equates to a month, that's $560. I could save up enough money to buy my own computer and then keep a decent internet connection. I guess it's for convenience, but I like to think it's social and economic reasons why cafes aren't as big as they are there.

Kelvin Bonilla
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What is the male/female ratio in these places? I find it hard to believe a regularly considered "pretty girl" would be found in a place like this. No point; just picks at my curiosity...

Joe McGinn
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Never seen a girl at one by herself. But, not at all uncommon to see them with friends, or with a boyfriend.