07 Oct Why Is the Chinese Mobile Game Market So Successful?
With the exploding growth China’s mobile gaming market witnessed over recent years, one might wonder how did this happen? Were there unique conditions that fueled this growth? E-Link’s partnered writer, Cassie, will shed some light onto the factors that brought China’s mobile game market to its current height.
As the world’s most populated country, China offers a huge market for mobile developers, especially in the game market. In 2014, China had around 383 million mobile gamers versus 137 million in the US. With numbers comes a greater potential for revenue. In fact, China’s mobile game market stands at around $7.7 billion, beating out Japan and the US as the most lucrative market. It’s no surprise then that China’s booming game market has made headlines. Despite stringent regulations and censorship rules, many developers want to enter the market. Of course, many Chinese gamers still find ways around geo-restrictions and censorship via VPN services for iPhones and Android.
So how exactly did China become the world’s leading mobile game market?
Improved Internet Access
The introduction of both budget smartphones and Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi and OnePlus have made these devices more accessible to the general population. As of 2014, there are over 1 billion mobile subscribers with 485 million using 3G and 97 million using 4G. With an increasing demand for data plans, China has improved their infrastructure so now people almost everywhere have access to the Internet. Thanks to this, more people can download apps and games than ever before. Of course, it can’t grow at this exponential rate every year, but signs point to continued growth until at least 2020.
Lack of Other Gaming Options
Unlike the United States, Chinese gamers only had two choices: PC and mobile. Before the advent of smartphones, people could only game on PCs. The release of the smartphone introduced a new gaming device to gamers hungry for more options. And since Chinese gamers were already used to the free-to-play model thanks to PC gaming, they readily embraced in-app purchases and apps. Although today all consoles are available in China, PC and mobile gaming still have the largest share of the market.
PC Studios Enter the Fray
One of the most significant trends in recent years is the emergence of PC studios in the mobile space. Top companies like Tencent, NetEase and Giant have released over 150 mobile games in just the past year. Their involvement in the mobile gaming space validates the growing importance of this market and sets an example to other studios looking into doing the same.
Strong Niche Segments
Just because large developers develop for mobile doesn’t mean there’s no room left for medium and small studios. While it has ramped up competition, this has led to more games targeted to niche audiences. Animation, warfare, indie and female-centric games all have managed to find their market because they offer something new and different. As more games start to flood the growing Chinese mobile market, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the little guys. They’re usually the ones leading the charge to new and interesting frontiers.
HTML5 Mobile Games
Thanks to its ease of development, HTML5 is popular among many developers. In fact, by the end of 2015, there were more than 3,000 HTML5 mobile games in China. While the majority fall into the casual genre, there’s a growing surge of monetized games, most notably in the RPG genre. The HTML5 platform has been so successful that Wozlla raised $2 million for its development platform.
For Chinese gamers, the biggest benefit of a HTML5 game besides performance is how well it translates to popular messaging apps. For developers, there are many. Besides ease of development, it is also much easier for people to discover and share their favorite HTML5 games versus those locked in an app store. While China might seem like a perfect market, it isn’t the easiest one to break into. And since the Chinese government has banned Google Play, in its stead you’ll need to deal with third-party Android stores. You’ll also have to follow strict regulations to get your game published. Even if you manage to release your game on one of the main stores, you’re also not guaranteed to make money. In fact, the majority of Chinese games lose money. With that said, partnering with a company who can help on all localization fronts will give you a better chance to capture a fraction of the huge Chinese audience.
About the Author: Cassie is a tech and entertainment writer. You can bet that if she can play a game on something, she will. She was one of those students who learned how to make a bowling game on her graphing calculator.
For further information on the Chinese Gaming Industry, and how games get published in China, be sure to check out our Featured posts.
Photo credit 1: ITU Pictures, unaltered original photo.
Photo credit 2: Joop, unaltered original photo.
Photo credit 3: >>> Silly Rabbit, Trix are forkids<<, unaltered original photo.
Photo credit 4: Cory M. Grenier, unaltered original photo.
Feature image credit: influencematters.asia, altered from original image.