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Tencent Holdings’ PUBG Mobile, left, and miHoYo’s Genshin Impact ranked behind Honour of Kings as the world’s highest-grossing mobile games in the first half of this year. Photos: Shutterstock

China’s Tencent, miHoYo remain on top of their industry with world’s most lucrative mobile games, despite sluggish market

  • Honour of Kings, PUBG Mobile and Genshin Impact ranked as the highest-grossing mobile games in the first half of this year, according to Sensor Tower
  • The global video gaming market, however, saw total consumer spending on mobile games in the same period fall 6.6 per cent year on year to US$41.2 billion
Video gaming
Tencent Holdings and miHoYo maintain their ranking atop the video gaming industry with the world’s most lucrative mobile games in the first half of this year, despite a sluggish global market, according to the latest data from app analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Honour of Kings and PUBG Mobile from internet giant Tencent, which runs the world’s largest video gaming business by revenue, remained the industry’s highest-grossing mobile titles in the first half, according to Sensor Tower. For the second consecutive year, Shanghai-based miHoYo’s Genshin Impact ranked third in the same period.
A multiplayer online battle arena game, Honour of Kings generated US$1.4 billion in consumer spending in the first six months of the year. PUBG Mobile, the battle royale title adapted from bestselling personal computer and console game PUBG: Battlegrounds, made US$1.1 billion in the same period.
An anime-style action role-playing game recognised for the biggest international launch of a Chinese game in history, Genshin Impact gained US$986.2 million in the first half.
Wu Zetian is a popular character in Tencent Holdings’ marquee mobile title Honour of Kings, which is the first video game in history – across all platforms – to average more than 100 million daily active users. Photo: Handout.
The Sensor Tower rankings covered data from Apple’s App Stores and Google Play stores worldwide, while excluding those from mainland China’s various Android app stores.

While consumer spending on Genshin Impact rose 16.3 per cent year on year, the numbers for Shenzhen-based Tencent’s Honour of Kings and PUBG Mobile both declined from the first half of 2021, when each title generated as much as US$1.5 billion.

That drop reflects how the global video gaming market turned sluggish this year, with total consumer spending on mobile games in the first half falling 6.6 per cent to US$41.2 billion.

Sensor Tower attributed the downswing to “normalisation after the surge during the pandemic” and “economic headwinds worldwide”. By comparison, global consumer spending in the first half last year rose 17.9 per cent.

Chinese-developed mobile games to see greater demand in US, Europe

Puzzle mobile game Candy Crush Saga, from Activision Blizzard subsidiary, earned US$593.5 million in the first to rank fourth in Sensor Tower’s rankings. Fifth-ranked Roblox, promoted as a metaverse gaming platform by creator Roblox Corp, made US$576.5 million in the same period.

Lilith Games, a Shanghai-based developer whose Rise of Kingdoms ranked ninth in the first half of last year, exited the top 10 mobile game ranking this year, according to Sensor Tower.

Strategy mobile game Three Kingdoms Tactics, published by Alibaba Group Holding-owned Qookka Entertainment, took the No 8 spot. Alibaba also owns the South China Morning Post.
While titles from Chinese developers continue to dominate the global mobile game rankings, tightened industry regulation and slowing growth on the mainland – the world’s largest video gaming market – are dampening these firms’ domestic expansion.
Even after the government ended its eight-month freeze on new video game licences in April, the pace of approvals has significantly slowed from a year ago. Tencent and its closest domestic rival NetEase have yet to gain a single new licence this year.
Tencent plans to open a new video game development studio in Singapore under its Timi Studios, the developer behind Honour of Kings. That would be its fourth overseas outpost after setting up facilities in Los Angeles and Seattle in the US, as well as in Montreal, Canada.

NetEase and miHoYo are also setting up new studios this year in Austin, Texas and Montreal, respectively.