China's mobile gaming market grew 400 per cent in 2014, due to overtake PC sector

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 12:44pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 August, 2015, 9:17am

Smartphone gaming outstripped all other formats in 2014, growing by more than 400 per cent, according to a new report.

The size of the mobile gaming market grew from 2.5 billion yuan (US$402 million) in 2013 to 12.5 billion yuan (US$2.01 billion) last year, overtaking the long dominant PC gaming sector in terms of growth, researchers from Chinese and US firms CNG and IDC said this month.

While the PC gaming sector is still the largest in terms of sales, with total revenues in 2014 around 125 per cent of that of mobile, growth has been slowing for years and this trend is not expected to reverse.

The report (pdf) found there are 365 million smartphone gamers, around three times the number of PC gamers, with that number due to increase.

There are more than 668 million internet users in China, with 88.9 per cent of those using a smartphone to get online, according to a recent report by the official China Internet Network Information Centre.

China's mobile gaming market overtook the US in terms of revenue for the first time last year, at US$6.5 billion, compared to around US$6 billion in the US.

According to research firm GMGC, global mobile gaming revenue will hit US$30.1 billion in 2015, growing to more than US$40 billion by 2017. Global box office revenues, by comparison, are projected to be US$44.5 billion that year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

One key difference between China's gaming market and those of the US or European markets is the weak showing of the console sector. Last week, Beijing lifted the remaining restrictions of a 14-year console ban, allowing the manufacturing and sale of the devices throughout mainland China.

However, consoles have been available on the grey market for years, while Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's Playstation 4 were approved for sale in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone from January 2014. Despite this, the gaming machines have failed to gain significant market share, with combined total sales of the Xbox One and PS4 expected to be less than 550,000 this year.