China set to become largest video-game market in the world this year

Mobile gaming is also predicted to become more lucrative than PC and console platforms, according to latest Global Games Market Report

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 April, 2016, 3:30pm

Gamers worldwide are expected to generate a total of US$99.6 billion in revenue for the video games industry this year, an 8.5 per cent increase from 2015, with China accounting for a quarter of that income, according to the latest Global Games Market Report released today.

Published by digital games market research firm Newzoo, the annual report also says mobile gaming will, for the first time, take a larger share than PC or console platforms, with US$36.9 billion.

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With a projected US$24.4 billion in revenues this year, China is expected to be the largest games market in the world, ahead of the US, whose anticipated market size is US$23.5 billion.

But the report also points out that China’s PC market is showing signs of a slowdown, “with a 4 per cent increase compared to the previous 16 per cent as the success of ‘core’ mobile titles is starting to cannibalise PC game spending”.

By contrast, the mobile gaming sector in China is leapfrogging forward faster than estimated and is predicted to reach US$10 billion by the end of 2016, up 41 per cent from last year’s US$7.1 billion. “China will remain the largest games market for the foreseeable future, growing to US$28.9 billion by 2019,” says the Global Games Market Report.

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This accelerating growth of the mobile game market is also reflected in a new report released by the Mobile Game Forum Asia, which was held in Hong Kong earlier this month.

According to the MGF, there are 564.5 million consumers in mainland China above the age of 18 who own or have regular access to a smartphone and/or tablet; three-quarters of them actively play mobile games. That means the country has more than 314 million active mobile gamers, who are generating around US$5 billion worth of revenue for this specific market.

By far the most popular mobile titles played in the past six months across all regions are puzzle games such as Candy Crush Saga.

“Where more mature markets (as in Japan and North America) are beginning to stabilise, China’s mobile gaming market represents a strong opportunity – featuring consistent year-over-year growth as new users are adopting new devices,” the report says.

“This growth is facilitated, in a large part, by domestic device manufacturers (such as Xiaomi) who provide affordable options.”

While virtual reality appears to be all the rage at the moment – with the recent release of VR headsets including the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – data from Newzoo suggest game software revenues from VR to remain marginal for the near future.

“VR and AR [augmented reality] will in the longer term change how consumers communicate with each other and interact with content,” says the report. “In the short to medium term, Newzoo expects the lion’s share of VR revenues to be generated by hardware sales, spectator content, and live viewing formats.”