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Chinese Gaming Industry - Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 - 2026)

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  • 120 Pages
  • January 2021
  • Region: China
  • Mordor Intelligence
  • ID: 4845977
The Chinese gaming market is expected to register a 14% CAGR during the forecast period 2021 - 2026. China is one of the most lucrative markets for the gaming industry. Several international companies are entering the market, either by acquiring shares in Chinese gaming vendors or by sponsoring professional players' teams. One of the primary reasons resulting in the growth of the gaming industry in China is the rapidly rising popularity of eSports, a competitive part of the gaming industry, where various players participate in gaming competitions while the entire game tournament is broadcasted online.
  • With the Chinese enterprises ready to embrace the business opportunities brought by global digitalization, companies across the region are leveraging digital transformation throughout the product cycle, especially to enhance their production efficiency. For instance, in May 2019, Tencent Holdings presented its industrial internet strategies at the inaugural ceremony of the Global Digital Ecosystem Summit in Kunming, thereby covering the game product's whole cycle from design, research, and development activities to distribution and after-sales services.
  • With the country finally allowing new video games from Tencent, the world's largest video game publisher, after a 10-month government freeze, the Chinese market is set to take off after a slight slump in 2018. The Chinese regulators are expected to approve 2000-3000 new games annually.
  • Further, the rapid growth in mini-games played inside mobile apps, such as WeChat, without installing another application, is witnessing the rapid adoption of China's gaming industry. These mini-games, which tend to have active social elements, are easy to play and have attracted many followers across the country.
  • Moreover, the modernization of cable networks also proves to be a potential driver behind the growth of China's gaming market. With the adoption of DOCSIS 3, which achieves download speeds as high as 100 Mbps, cable operators offer high-performance cloud gaming services in China.
  • Additionally, the increasing prevalence of cloud infrastructure provides abundant computing, storage, and communication resources in a reliable, cost-effective, and low-maintenance manner. Various gaming applications will employ these cloud computing resources, as gaming services stand to be one of China's fastest-growing sectors for cloud computing.
  • The impacts of COVID-19 resulted in in-game delays and scope scale-downs that is expected to prevent the console gaming sector from witnessing the same gains as a mobile platform. COVID-19 has ravaged China, but businesses whose infrastructure is based in online ad sales and in-game purchases have been hit less (source Lyndon Gaming). But the pandemic has fundamentally shifted how much revenue ad sales and in-game purchases bring in. Chinese game designers are adjusting their monetization models to lessen the hit their revenue streams will take.

Key Market Trends

Mobile Games Occupies the Largest Market Share
  • The mobile games segment of the market is expected to witness significant demand during the forecast period due to the country's growing mobile gamers population. The majority of players are concentrated in tier-2 cities of China, such as Chengdu and Wuhan. According to the Game Committee of the Publishers Association of China, the share of sales revenue of the mobile games in the gaming industry in China reached 68.5% in FY2019, from 62.5% in FY2018. The availability of affordable smartphones is further likely to prompt a shift from the current feature of mobile phone users to smartphones.
  • Further, according to SensorTower listing, the top 30 Chinese game publishers accounted for 26 percent of the global mobile gaming revenue for June 2020. Popular brands like Tencent and NetEase topped the charts while other familiar names include Lilith Games, FunPlus, Lingxi Games, etc.
  • Game publishers and developers are catering towards emerging markets consumers by releasing “lite” versions of games that can run on phones with less processing power (i.e., cheaper phones). This broadens the reach of the specific title by making the game more accessible to consumers who might not be able to afford the fastest, best mobile phones.
  • Game Research & Development (R&D) and operations, especially for mobile games, are expected to become more dependent on the cloud in the future. Also, game server hosting service to Chinese online/mobile games with a presence outside China is trending. Mobile gaming is dominant, especially an opportunity for cloud hosting services, like Ucloud, since China is the leader in terms of smartphone sales as well as production.
  • Further, the affordable mobile internet and the advent of advanced mobile infrastructure, such as the upcoming 5G technology, are expected to further fuel the country's mobile gaming market.

Rise of Cloud Gaming and 5G to Drive the Market
  • Cloud gaming is expected to be the fastest-growing game industry sector in China and has accumulated significant momentum. For instance, CloudUnion reportedly has a subscriber base of 20 million, which signifies cloud gaming's bright prospects in the country. Also, the strong compatibility of cloud gaming with IPTV and the existing technical constraints on the flow encircle the game's potential market on-demand to households in China.
  • Moreover, some of the investments and collaborations taking place to extend and expand the gaming services in China are expected to fuel the market demand. For instance, Kalydo, one of the prominent gaming service providers and Shanghai-based Chi Yu games, launched the Speed Kingdom, a new generation of 3D MMO racing online games. By leveraging Kalydo's cloud game service, players can initiate the gaming process in a very short period, without needing any heavy downloads and lengthy installation process.
  • Recently, China passed a law restricting spending limits for under 18s on gaming to between USD 28 to USD 57 a month. The regulation has been passed to address "poor academic performance across a broad swath of society" amongst youths and tackle video game addiction issues. The spending limit focuses on microtransactions and DLC (Downloadable Content), and with the adoption of the cloud, the subscription-based model caters to the new opportunity for growth.
  • Further, technologies such as 5G are also driving the mobile-based VR gaming market in the region. For instance, in May 2020, Archiact has announced a partnership with Migu, a telecom provider China Mobile subsidiary, for Archiact's games that would be the first VR games o be playable via Migu's 5G cloud gaming platform, named as Migu Quick Gaming. Also, by partnering with Migu, Archiact states that it can work together to build the future of 5G VR cloud gaming, thus making VR even more accessible.

Competitive Landscape

The Chinese gaming industry is competitive, owing to the presence of many small and large players in the market. The market appears to be moderately concentrated. The market's major players adopt strategies like product innovation, service innovation, mergers, and acquisitions to stay ahead of the competition and increase their reach. Some of the recent developments in the market are:
  • June 2020 - Tencent paid USD 260 million for a majority stake in Bohemia Interactive, a Czech-based games designer behind the "ArmA" and "DayZ" games series. This caters towards its expansion in the gaming environment.
  • April 2019 - Nintendo entered into a new strategic deal with Tencent, which will allow the Nintendo Switch to be launched into mainland China where both companies will need to submit each of their game for approval in the country and ensure the games comply with the content regulations. The partnerships are aimed to focus on optimizing future projects, including Qualcomm Snapdragon-based mobile gaming devices, Snapdragon elite gaming enhancements, game content and performance optimizations, cloud gaming, AR/VR gaming, 5G gaming, and additional relevant technologies.

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Table of Contents

1.1 Study Assumptions and Market Definition
1.2 Scope of the Study
4.1 Market Overview
4.2 Industry Attractiveness - Porter's Five Force Analysis
4.2.1 Bargaining Power of Suppliers
4.2.2 Bargaining Power of Buyers/Consumers
4.2.3 Threat of New Entrants
4.2.4 Threat of Substitute Products
4.2.5 Intensity of Competitive Rivalry
5.1 Market Influencing Factors
5.2 Growth Inhibitors
5.3 Market Drivers
5.3.1 Rapid Advancement in Technological Developments
5.4 Market Restraints
5.4.1 Fluctuating Government Regulations Regarding Gaming Industry
5.5 Market Opportunity
6.1 Emergence of AR, Location-based-Services and Blockchain
6.2 Cloud Games and 5G
6.3 Investment Scenario in eSports
6.4 Growth of Mini Games (WeChat, QQ platforms etc.)
7.1 China Gaming Market Sizing & Forecast
7.2 Gamers Population in China
7.3 Gamers Population by Age and Gender
7.4 Market Segmentation by Platform
7.4.1 PC Games
7.4.2 Console Games
7.4.3 Mobile Games
7.5 Top 20 Android Games & Apps in China
7.6 Top 20 iOS Games & Apps in China
7.7 Suspension of Gaming Licenses in China
7.8 Foreign Companies Share in Chinese Gaming Industry
8.1 Chinese Cloud Gaming Overview
8.2 Chinese Cloud Gaming Ecosystem
8.2.1 Cloud Computing Ecosystem (Cloud Providers, GPU/CPU, Servers)
8.2.2 Cloud Gaming Services Overview
8.2.3 Game Publishers and Developers Overview
8.2.4 Internet Providers Overview
8.2.5 Access Devices Overview
8.3 Role of 5G in boosting Cloud Gaming
9.1 Top 10 Streaming Platforms, By Platform and User Donations
9.2 Top 10 Streamer Guilds, By Business Value and Active Streamers
9.3 Top 10 Games, By # of Streams and Publisher
9.4 Top 10 Game Streamers, By Game, Platform and Donations
10.1 Company Profiles
10.1.1 Tencent Holdings
10.1.2 NetEase Inc.
10.1.3 37 Interactive Entertainment
10.1.4 Beijing Kunlun Technology Co. Ltd.
10.1.5 Perfect World Games
10.1.6 Elex Technology
10.1.7 Shanda Games
10.1.8 KongZhong Corporation
10.1.9 The9 Limited
10.1.10 NetDragon Websoft

Companies Mentioned

A selection of companies mentioned in this report includes:

  • Tencent Holdings
  • NetEase Inc.
  • 37 Interactive Entertainment
  • Beijing Kunlun Technology Co. Ltd.
  • Perfect World Games
  • Elex Technology
  • Shanda Games
  • KongZhong Corporation
  • The9 Limited
  • NetDragon Websoft