|New research shows that online gaming in Europe is seeing a vast increase, with the Netherlands, closely followed by Germany and France, coming top the list and even outstripping the US. In January 2003, 5.9 million Europeans visited an online games site on the Internet - more than double the 2.8 million surfers who visited sites in this sector in January last year.|
Is it the weather? 'Partly, it’s been an improvement in gaming technology', says Internet Analyst Tom Ewing. 'The sector as a whole has been strengthened by the sales of current gaming consoles, which include broadband and online gaming in their development plans. Events like the forthcoming launch of X-Box Live in Europe, for instance, act to establish the concept of online gaming. There’s a knock-on effect beyond specific brands.'
But the key factor driving the penetration of online gaming in Europe is probably the uptake of broadband connections over the last year. 'What we’ve seen is a big rise in broadband take-up, and online gaming is one of the sectors these high-speed connections are best suited for. It’s notable that France and the Netherlands – two of the top three markets in terms of broadband penetration – are also so prominent in online gaming terms. The growth of online gaming is the first sign that the long-awaited European broadband boom may actually be here.'