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Video gaming

Anime comes to the rescue of China's flagging mobile gaming industry as revenue jumps in third quarter

  • The figures may lift some of the industry gloom after China’s gaming market suffered its slowest growth in at least a decade in the first half
  • Anime-themed titles generated nearly 40 per cent of total gross revenue from the two dozen new games released in the third quarter
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 6:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2018, 10:55pm

China’s mobile gaming industry made a surprise comeback in the third quarter, shrugging off the effects of a government crackdown, thanks to new titles adapted from manga and anime – many from Japan.

The country’s mobile gaming market recorded total revenue of 35.6 billion yuan (US$5.1 billion) for the quarter ended September 30, up 17 per cent year-on-year and 10 per cent sequentially, according to a report published on Tuesday by Beijing-based research firm CNG. Both growth figures are higher than those in the second quarter.

The figures may lift some of the industry gloom after China’s gaming market suffered its slowest growth in at least a decade in the first half amid a months-long halt on government approval of new games. Mobile games contributed 60 per cent of overall revenue in the period. Beijing has sought to tighten its control over the gaming sector this year amid concerns over internet addiction, childhood myopia and inappropriate content – helping to knock US$220 billion in market value off Tencent Holdings, the world’s top grossing games publisher last year.

Tencent restructures with eye on industrial internet as gaming business slows

Chinese gaming firms have found something of a lifeline in anime-themed titles, which generated nearly 40 per cent of total gross revenue from the two dozen new games released in the third quarter, according to data from CNG. These newly-released games obtained publishing licenses before Beijing’s suspension in March of new game approvals.

Top among them is a card-battle game called I am MT 4, based on a Chinese cartoon series about Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, one of the most popular online games in China. Since being released by Tencent at the end of July, I am MT 4 has raked in more than 1.5 billion yuan, becoming the third-biggest grossing game for the third quarter behind Tencent’s viral battle arena title Honour of Kings and Netease’s role-playing game Fantastic Westward Journey.

Why this new Japanese anime is a big hit in China

Other hot new games include those adapted from Japanese manga and anime, such as Saint Seiya, One Piece and Bleach. First released as a manga series in 1986, Saint Seiya was repeatedly broadcast in China throughout the 1990s, accompanying many Chinese millennials through their childhood. In the latest Tencent adaptation, players control a team of six mystical warriors who fight wearing armour inspired by constellations, much like in the original series.

Overall Tencent was behind 11 titles among the 24 new mobile titles released in the third quarter. The Shenzhen-based company posted its first profit decline since 2005 in the second quarter on lower gaming revenue, with president Martin Lau blaming the disappointing results partly on blocked game approvals.

Amid the stock-market sell-off Tencent has ramped up its release of games that are easier to make money off, represented mainly by card and role-playing genres, the CNG report noted.