Recently, the Chinese game industry is growing rapidly. It was 60.5 billion yuan in the first half of 2015, and it has become 139.4 billion yuan in the first half of 2020. It has more than doubled in 5 years.
Mobile games are driving the growth of the Chinese game industry. According to market research firm Analysys, the growth rate of the Chinese mobile game market reached 89.71% in the first half of 2016, 27.29% in the first half of 2017, and 9.93% in the first half of 2018. The growth rate in the first half of 2018 declined somewhat, because Chinese government stopped issuing game version number. After Chinese government started issuing game version number in December 2018, the growth rate in the first half of 2019 increased to 18.87%.
According to the '2019 China Game Industry Report', mobile games account for 68.5% of the Chinese game industry. Looking at Tencent and Netease, the leaders of the Chinese game industry, mobile game sales account for the highest proportion. The same is true of other Chinese game companies such as Perfect World, 37 Games.
As the Chinese mobile game industry has grown rapidly, the quality of Chinese mobile games has grown remarkably. I have been monitoring the Chinese app stores over the past two years. When a new game is released, I played it regardless of the genre. If you look at the new games released by famous Chinese game companies, it is clear that the overall quality is getting better and better.
As a result, my perception of Chinese mobile games has changed rapidly. In 2018, I thought, ‘I can’t ignore it just because it is a Chinese game.’ In 2019, I thought, 'Even if China accepts South Korean games, it would be very difficult to succeed in China with South Korean mobile games.' In 2020, I think, 'If major game companies in China and South Korea compete with mobile games, it would be quite difficult for South Korean companies to beat Chinese game companies.'
What is the best example of the improvement in the quality of Chinese mobile games? First, leading game companies or major companies are signing contracts related to mobile games with Chinese companies. Activision, Blizzard, PUBG, Warner Bros, HBO, Marvel Entertainment, and Toei Animation have signed mobile game-related contracts with Chinese companies like Tencent or Netease.
As a result, Major mobile games like 'Call of Duty: Mobile', 'Diablo Immortal', 'Battleground Mobile', 'Marvel Duel', 'Harry Potter: Magic Awakened', 'Game of Thrones: Winter Is Coming', 'Slam Dunk' are being developed by Chinese companies. These games are also quite popular outside of China.
Also, the quality of mobile games recently released in China is quite good. In the past, graphics quality was poor or overall quality was poor. But that is a history. As more and more mobile games are developed with Unreal Engine in China, the graphic quality has reached almost the same level as South Korean mobile games. And the overall quality is good.
It is also remarkable that various genres coexist in the Chinese mobile game market. In the South Korean mobile game market, mobile MMORPGs and mobile RPGs dominate. As this trend is so intense, it is difficult to find other games in the top sales.
On the other hand, in China, there are various types of games such as MOBA, MMORPG, RPG, shooter, battle royal, strategy, racing, sports, rhythm, rogue-like games, idle games, and hyper casual games. The ‘quantity’ of growth is great, but the ‘quality’ of growth is not bad either.
The Chinese mobile game industry and the quality of mobile games are growing rapidly. What I am worrying about now is that Chinese mobile games are increasingly entering various countries, including South Korea.
At this time, let’s look at the South Korean mobile game industry. The proportion of mobile MMORPGs and mobile RPGs is too high. So, when other genre game that was popular in China is released in South Korea, there are cases in which it completely dominates the market. ‘AFK Arena’, ‘Rise of Kingdoms’, and SRPG ‘Langrisser’ have done it.
I expect more of that to happen in the future. And in 2021, it will be difficult for South Korean mobile games to compete with Chinese mobile games. If it gets harder to compete with Chinese games in South Korea, it will get harder in countries like Taiwan, Southeast Asia and Japan. I have enjoyed watching the quality of Chinese mobile games improve. But one day I started to be afraid to watch this development.
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