The latest forecast for the growth of the global games industry shows that the next four years are boom years, with a growth of $41.9 billion in global sales last year to a predicted $68.3 billion in 2012.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers data is drawn from the forthcoming Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2008-2012 report.

Console games up

Console games are predicted to grow by 6.9 percent annually, going from sales of $24.9 billion last year to $34.7 billion in 2012.

Online and wireless games are predicted to have the fastest rate of growth over the next four years (16.9 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively), with the in-game advertising industry also predicted to reap massive rewards in the coming years, going from the $1 billion level in 2007 to $2.3 billion in 2012.

"That's phenomenal growth," PwC partner Stefanie Kane told Reuters, "especially considering that in-game advertising only works with certain kinds of games, sports being a primary example."

PC games down

Offline PC gaming is the only gaming sector predicted to fall in terms of revenue growth from $3.8 billion last year to $3.6 billion in 2012.

PricewaterhouseCoopers report lists the following factors that feed into the rapid growth of the games industry over the next four years:

* mobile phones capable of downloading games with sophisticated graphics and displaying them on relatively large screens;

* an online market driven by the increased penetration of broadband households;

* the increasing popularity of massively multi-player online games that earn revenue through subscription fees and micro-transactions.