Vietnam online games market to exceed $80m

Vietnam online games market to exceed $80m

But foreign games dominate the market

Gamers in Vietnam could be paying more than $80m annually to play games online within two years, a local industry body predicted today.

However, foreign software developers are far ahead of local firms when it comes to profiting from the market, according to officials from the Vietnam Software Association (VSA).

Vietnam's online games market will be worth $50m by 2007, growing steadily to reach $83m by 2010, according to the forecasts.

The VSA estimated last year that the average gamer spends as much as $50 per year, and that around two million people play regularly.

Many games are free to play, although gamers pay to acquire in-game items, such as weapons, that enhance their status in the game world.

Hardcore gamers may also pay more than $10 per month in internet café charges in a country where private PC ownership is still relatively rare.

VinaGame, one of the country's largest games publishers with more than 450 employees, claims that eight million accounts have been set up by players of its games.

However, most games are developed overseas. VinaGame's biggest hit, Swordsman Online, is a localised version of a game developed for the Chinese market by Chinese firm Kingsoft.

Swordsman Online was so popular at one point, with more than a quarter of a million players, that the government considered banning new accounts because the traffic was overloading the country's internet infrastructure.

Online games developed in China and South Korea are the most popular with Vietnamese gamers, VSA executives reported.