The Chinese mobile gaming market is already huge and will only get bigger

Good outdoor fun based on a tiny-screen game
Good outdoor fun based on a tiny-screen game
Image: Reuters/CDIC
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Video games are big in China. We’re talking 60 billion yuan ($9.7 billion) big. That’s a little less than half the size of the US market, and a lot less per capita, but the rapid growth of mobile gaming will help China close the gap.

PC games have long been far and away the largest source of revenue for the Chinese gaming industry. A new report (PDF, link in Chinese) on the Chinese gaming market—from Chinese research firm CNG and American counterpart IDC—suggests that PC games are likely to lose that position to smaller-screened competitors.

Here’s the state of Chinese gaming today.

PC games still have a comfortable lead, but growth is slowing to a halt while mobile is just starting to take off. Have a look at the incredible 400% jump mobile makes, from 2.5 billion yuan in 2013 to 125.2 billion yuan in 2014.

What’s more, there are now roughly three times more mobile gamers than PC gamers. About half of these mobile gamers only joined that group in the past couple of years, so the market still has a long way toward maturity. And, yes, that number is 365 million smartphone gamers.

The elephant in the room is consoles. These make up the largest chunk of gaming sales in the US (though they are also threatened by the rise of mobile games). But console games are both unpopular and highly regulated in China. The government only recently started lifting restrictions on video game consoles, and censorship for blockbuster Western games will continue to be a challenge.