Tuesday 10th July/...Within the next three years online gamers could be spending more than£2billion a year in pursuit of cyber-gaming pleasures, according to Electronic Arts’ director of E-Commerce, John Burns.

Europeans currently spend on average ten hours a week online– a total set to sky-rocket in the near future according to Burns. Speaking at a two-day conference examining‘the challenges of online gaming’ staged in Brussels recently by ISFE (Interactive Software Federation of Europe), Burns laid out his vision for gaming’s online future.

“Not only is gaming a significant industry in size now but online gaming is an important step for us as an industry,” he explained.“Many people play online games and it is not just confined to a hard-core of gamers, it is very broad and widespread. There are many people playing online games of all ages, male and female.”

Burns told delegates that there are currently 100 million online games players globally– a total set to soar thanks to increasingly fast broadband connections installed in private homes.

“European broadband penetration is growing, from 2006 at around 35 per cent to over 45 per cent by 2012,” he said.“Household penetration of broadband is also exponential - and we are looking at that growing in Europe from 40 per cent now to over 60 per cent in 2012.

“Not only is online significant in scope now, but it is accelerating. We are only at the beginning of this curve - and we are also only at the beginning of this curve as far as consumers go. The projected spend of online gamers by 2010 is $4.4bn <£2.18bn>.”

Gamers are playing more online titles for a number of reasons, but the main one according to Burns is the sense of community the medium offers.“Online games expand your world,” he said.“And players can replicate in a larger world what they have in the off-line world.”



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