It wasn't long ago when PCs held the vast majority of all online gaming activity, but times are rapidly changing. With all three current consoles sporting Internet support, the greatly expanded PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Marketplace, and Virtual Console services are excellent services with tons of potential.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, the console online gaming market will be worth about $10.5 billion by 2011, and home consoles will account for nearly 19% (18.6%) of the global videogame market revenue. Last year, the total online revenue from consoles was about $981 million, which represented only about 2.5% of the global games market (research source: IDC). At this time, the online world is essential to the success of third-party publishers; downloadable content and in-game advertising is clearly the wave of the future.

"Gamers' use of connected consoles is expanding the business opportunities and cash flow this console cycle," says Billy Pidgeon, program manager for IDC. "This emerging sector has huge potential. Getting gamers online and enticing them to spend on content and services is crucial for vendors and publishers."

Perhaps not surprisingly, the research findings show that downloadable content revenue is primed for a spike between now and 2011. They expect to see a giant surge of 68.6%, from the $493 million in 2007 to about $7.2 billion in 2011, and that's enough to make anyone stand up and take notice. But as any avid gamer knows, online functionality in video games is quickly becoming a huge selling point, and even a necessity for certain titles (the upcoming Warhawk , for example). But these numbers are still quite staggering.

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