Mobile Tops China’s Game Biz

January 24, 2017

According to China market research firm iResearch, mobile gaming became the largest market segment in the game industry in 2016.  iResearch pegs the number of mobile game players in China at 521 million, while the number of PC game players was only 484 million.

Tencent's Honor of Kings MOBA is leading the Chinese charts.

Tencent’s Honor of Kings MOBA is leading the Chinese charts.

Overall China game industry revenue was up 23% to 177 billion Yuan (over $25 billion USD).  Of that revenue 56% was mobile games. This marked the first time that mobile games surpassed PC games in iResearch’s estimate.

Impact: The China market is hard to nail down exactly and many firms will have different estimates when it comes to market size. For the past decade, DFC Intelligence has worked with iResearch and found their estimates to be the most realistic and detailed. This is because the company 1) focuses on tracking actual consumer behavior across a large sample base (millions of users) and 2) tends to be conservative in their forecasts and able to avoid the latest hype. The growth of mobile games in China is no surprise and the main issue is what will be the longer term impact on the China game market. DFC agrees with iResearch that as PC gaming has started to level off, mobile gaming will also mature in the next year or two.  The end result is a leveling off in the China game market. Of course, this is not a decline and more a sign of a maturing market. When you reach such mass appeal it is hard to have year-over-year double digit growth. The China market is still likely to grow but it is fast becoming a mature business with entrenched market players that new would be entrants will need to clearly understand.

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