2021 China Gaming Industry Report is Out, Highlighting Worries That Growth Cannot Continue as it Has

By Isabella Jiangcheng
Dec. 18, 2021 updated 04:32
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Today, the Game Publishing Committee of China's Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association (中国音数协游戏工委)released 2021's Chinese Gaming Industry Report. The report highlighted the continuous growth of China's gaming industry both in its market size and in its user base. However, the report also pointed out the slowdown of the growth rate that should raise some concerns for the industry insiders.

In terms of the Gaming Industry, the report highlighted the continuous growth of the market size. The actual sales revenue reached 296.5 billion CNY (~ 46.5 billion USD), a 6.4 % year-on-year growth from 2020's revenue. However, the growth rate has declined almost 15% from 2019 to 2020's growth rate of 20.7%, indicating a concern that the market might have begun reaching the industry ceiling. The report believed that slow growth is expected because as China is recovering from the pandemic, the so-called 'lockdown' economy (宅经济) would experience declines gradually. The report also attributed the decline to the lack of 'hit' games this year and the rising cost for publishing and operation. 

 

Actual Sales Revenue and Its Growth Rate for China's Gaming Market 

 

Actual Sales Revenue and Its Growth Rate for China's Domestically Developed Games 

Throughout the overall market, only online PC games are showing robust growth. The games growth year-on-year has seen a 5.15% upward growth to reach the market size of 58.8 billion CNY (~ 9.2 billion USD), a positive change from the three consecutive years of negative growth. The data could suggest the potential rise of cross-platform games. Mobile games had a year-on-year growth of 7.57% and 0.23% in actual sales revenue and user base, respectively, making up a total market of 225.5 billion CNY (~35.4 billion USD), still the largest gaming market in China. ARPG/MMORPG, MOBA, and Shooter games contributed 48.58% of the revenue. 

 

Actual Sales Revenue and Its Growth Rate for PC Online Games (客户端游戏) 

 

Actual Sales Revenue and Its Growth Rate for Mobile Games (客户端游戏) 

 

Top 100 Revenue Earning Mobile Games Divided by Genre 

Games that Chinese companies independently developed contributed 86% of the actual sales revenue of the overall gaming market, and it told a similar story as the general market overview. The market had a 6.51% growth rate, a 20% decline from 2019 to 2020. The dominating position of domestically developed games was able to maintain the revenue growth, but the willingness to pay was evidently declining. These games' performance in the overseas market has seen a higher year-on-year growth of 16.59%, reaching about 18 billion USD (~114.6 CNY) in the actual sales revenue. Geographically, The United States, Japan, and South Korea are still the top three contributors, making up 58.31% of the revenue in total. Strategy (including Simulation SLG), ARPG/MMORPG, and Shooters are the top three performing mobile genres in the overseas market, contributing more than 60% of the total revenue. 

 

Actual Sales Revenue and Its Growth Rate for China's Domestically Developed Games in the Overseas Market 

 

Top 100 Revenue Earning China's Domestically Developed Mobile Games in the Overseas Market Divided by Genre 

The size of the user base also shows a similar pattern. Even though the user base has seen stable growth from 664.79 million to 666.24 million, the year-on-year growth rate reached only 0.22%, a surprisingly low rate compared to the previous year's 3.7% growth. The report acknowledges that the demographic dividend on gaming is diminishing. Still, the growth could be interpreted as the demographic is growing into a healthier user structure since the number of underage players is limited due to the latest restrictions. 

 

Size of User Base and Its Growth Rate for China's Gaming Market 

Two market segments were highlighted in this year's report. Due to the pandemic, the esports market was relatively weak, with only a 2.65% growth in the actual sales revenue, a decline of 41.51% from 2019 to 2020's growth rate of 44.16%. But with EDG winning this year's LOL championship, it is believed that the market will restore its confidence in 2022. On the other hand, Anime mobile games had a boom. The actual sales revenue had a year-on-year growth of 27.43% and a 24% increase in the growth rate. 

 

Actual Sales Revenue and Its Growth Rate for the Esports Market 

 

Actual Sales Revenue and Its Growth Rate for the Anime Mobile Game

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