China’s mobile game industry is one of the largest beneficiaries of the smartphone boom. According to a report released by China Game Industry Annual Conference this week, the sales revenue of the mobile gaming industry has reached 51.5 billion yuan ($7.94 billion), an 87.2 percent increase year on year.
At the end of the first half of 2015, there were over 366 million mobile game players in China. The sheer size of the amount of players is why game market research firms like Niko, have predicted that China’s mobile games market will overtake the United States market by the end of 2015.
Four years ago, the 1.26 billion yuan market was barely getting started. Now it accounts for 50 percent of all kinds of games approved by the Chinese government in 2015. It has taken the industry only three years to achieve a sixteen-fold increase. “Mobile games have revolutionized the gaming industry by expanding the users from a small group of people to the general public, from the hard-core players to almost everyone who has a smartphone,” said Wang Shiying, Vice President of Linekong Interactive Group.
With tens of thousands of mobile game companies rushing into the mobile game space in China in recent years, however, Wang said that the industry has entered a reshuffling stage. Major industry players, such as Tencent and Netease game have dominated the industry, leaving small or medium-sized gaming companies struggling to take a hold.
“So far many small companies that lack funds and strength have been knocked out. This reshuffling process will result in more resources being concentrated in big companies. And players will also be more mature in being able to distinguish between excellent games and the flops,” Wang said.
Meanwhile, in terms of the quality and design of Chinese mobile game, observers also voiced their concerns and asked for more innovative, original works of content.
To attract more customers and market share, mobile game companies are fighting tooth and nail to win IP, or intellectual property rights, for famous novels, movies and TV series, and then design the game based on these popular cultures.
“Sources of capital are pursuing profits but there lie a lot of risks in innovation. If the industry is not willing to invest in developing more original games with more creative game play, homogeneity will prevail. And then all the games will be the same, except for their names,” said Shui Lingling, Associate Professor, from Animations School of Communication University of China. Still, according to Professor Shui, the industry has plenty of room to grow for many years if more original content can be created.