Mobile gaming industry ushers in bittersweet spring

By Gao Zhan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 8, 2020
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A gaming fan in Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, takes part in an online King of Glory playing competition. [Photo/VCG]

The spread of COVID-19 has led to an economic downturn, and traditional industries such as retail, tourism, and restaurants have been greatly affected. Meanwhile, businesses at some companies in the mobile gaming industry appeared to be booming.

As many people were forced to stay at home due to the virus, consumer-oriented businesses that could be conducted over the internet, such as the mobile gaming industry, ushered in a spring.

Recently, CNG, a third-party research firm in the gaming sector, released a report on the mobile gaming industry during the epidemic. According to the report, the revenue of China's mobile gaming market reached a record high of nearly 55 billion yuan ($7.75 billion) in Q1 2020, with a year-on-year growth rate of more than 49%. 

According to CNG, Tencent-produced "Game for Peace" and "Honor of Kings" were the two most popular mobile games. Earlier media reports show that the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game "Honor of Kings" generated a single-day revenue of about 2 billion yuan on Jan. 24, which was the Chinese New Year's Eve. The staggering figure also marked a 50% increase compared to the same day last year.

Some other top companies in the industry, such as NetEase, Perfect World, and Aligames, also performed well and increased their revenue in the first quarter.

However, such surge did not happen to a number of small and medium-sized companies in the mobile gaming industry. Li Ying, a product manager who works for an indie company in Hangzhou, told, "Originally, we hoped that the game could be successfully launched online after the Spring Festival, but due to the epidemic, colleagues could not return to work in time, and the project had to postpone."

Li said, "Large companies have attracted most of the DAUs (daily active users). Small and medium-sized game companies are struggling to survive, because the investment cannot keep up and daily work has temporarily stalled."

From the perspective of game downloads throughout the Spring Festival, the downloads of the 60 most popular games according to data from CNG increased significantly, while the downloads of 61st through 100th games actually fell off. CNG indicates that the popular games have taken most of the market share in mobile gaming, so it's not an easy task for small and medium-sized game companies, which saw a negative growth in game downloads, to attract new users.

Han Shuai, secretary-general of the Shanghai Online Game Association, said that owing to the extended Spring Festival holiday and the implementation of working-from-home protocols, the number of online gamers has increased, and the general outlook of the gaming industry is optimistic in the short term. But in the long run, the epidemic may have negatively affected the gaming industry.

Han said he believes that, due to the progress of the resumption of work, the games that will be launched in the third and fourth quarters of this year may be affected. In addition, consumers may choose to reduce spending on cultural entertainment in order to be able to purchase daily necessities, which may also hurt the gaming industry in the long run.

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