Black Myth: Wukong martial arts title in race to become China’s first AAA game
- While the developer Game Science has yet to announce a release date, it is expected the game will join a list of Chinese titles to appear on the next generation of consoles
- Within a day of being uploaded, the game’s 13-minute demo video recorded 10 million views on Chinese video site Bilibili and nearly 2 million on YouTube
While China dominates the US$77 billion mobile gaming market, it falls short when it comes to AAA games, an umbrella term for premium titles incorporating cutting-edge technology and art.
As the mobile gaming market reaches saturation, Chinese companies are now looking to compete in the premium space with a new generation of titles under the industry’s informal AAA classification, usually pronounced triple-A. The latest is the martial arts action game Black Myth: Wukong by Hangzhou-based studio Game Science.
Within a day of being uploaded, the game’s 13-minute demo video recorded 10 million views on Chinese video site Bilibili and nearly 2 million on YouTube. The game also became the top trending hashtag on Weibo and Douyin, China’s equivalent of Twitter and TikTok respectively.
Retelling stories from the classic Chinese mythology epic Journey to the West, Black Myth: Wukong has excited its fan base by its impressive gameplay and high visual fidelity as shown in the demo reel. While the developer Game Science has yet to announce a release date, it is expected that the game will join a list of Chinese titles to appear on the next generation of consoles such as Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X.
Game Science was founded in 2015 by a group of developers formerly under Tencent. Before Black Myth: Wukong, the company developed the mobile games Art of War: Red Tides and 100 Heroes, both of which enjoyed moderate fame.
Game Science’s operations director Lan Weiyi said the decision to develop an AAA game was made in 2017 after the realisation that there were more Steam users from China than the US. Valve’s Steam platform is where many PC-based AAA games are released.
“At the time, there were already more than 1 million Chinese gamers playing Grand Theft Auto on Steam,” Lan wrote on Chinese online platform Zhihu. “Then we realised that China’s premium games market was going through a transformation.”
As well as Black Myth: Wukong, other titles with the potential to be China’s first breakout AAA game include indie titles Lost Soul Aside and Bright Memory: Infinite, as well as Tencent Holdings’ upcoming title SYN.
While it remains unclear when Black Myth: Wukong will be released, Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad said Game Science will now be looking for funding and publishers to work with.
“My personal estimate is that this game is still at least two years out,” Ahmad said. “It is still far from completion and the aim now is to perfect what they have been able to showcase across a full length game that is worth the asking price.”
However, the timing of the demo release was good for Game Science as both Microsoft and Sony are on the lookout for high-quality, exclusive titles to bolster sales for their next-generation consoles.