updated 3/9/2006 10:39:15 PM ET 2006-03-10T03:39:15

Worldwide online game subscription revenue grew 43 percent to $2 billion in 2005, according to a video gaming market research firm.

Online subscriptions remain a fraction of the estimated $29 billion in overall video game sales in 2005, but San Diego, Calif.-based DFC Intelligence expects the segment will reach $6.8 billion in sales by 2011.

"It's on the cusp of strong growth and becoming a mainstream part of gaming," said DFC's president David Cole.

So-called massively multiplayer online games, such as the "World of Warcraft," accounted for more than half of the subscription sales in 2005 while one-fifth came from casual games. The remainder was split among sports, strategy, first-person shooter and children's games.

Today, the vast majority of subscriptions are generated from games played on PCs, but in five years, DFC forecasts that console-based online games will become a bigger driver, accounting for 29 percent of worldwide online subscription revenue.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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