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Games market will be worth $86bn by 2006

Seventy-one per cent growth over next five years

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The size of the games market could jump by a massive 71 per cent over the next five years, making it an $86 billion industry by 2006, according to a new study from London's Informa Media Group.

This will mostly be down to a wave of new console systems - Xbox, GameCube and PlayStation 2 - as well as the the way games will spread to set-top boxes and next-generation mobile phones.

"The big difference over the next few years will be a move away from the image of gamers as 'nerds'," says report co-author Adam Thomas. "Games will move very much into the mainstream - something that will see 'ordinary' people playing games much more, using their mobile phones and TV sets."

Apparently the Internet, interactive TV and mobile phones could account for up to 27 per cent of the gaming industry's revenues by 2006, compared to just two per cent last year.

Consoles will also play their part, with sales expected to rise 73 per cent over the next five years to a total of $33 billion. Online gaming will account for around $5.6 billion. All of this will be offset by the continuing contractions of the arcade games business, which has already caused problems for companies such as Midway. ®

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