Chinese mobile games take 19 of top 100 spots in US games market in the first quarter amid Covid boom

Chinese mobile games accounted for 19 of the top 100 highest-grossing games in the US in the first quarter, according to data from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, raking in a combined US$487mil in revenue and underlining the drive by some developers overseas.

Chinese Internet and social media giant Tencent Holdings featured with its PUBG Mobile game, as did Lilith Games with Rise Of Kingdoms and FunPlus with Guns Of Glory, according to the report published this week by the San Francisco-based data firm.

Together, the 19 top Chinese mobile games accounted for 16.3% of the revenue generated by the top 100 games, up 15.9% growth from the same period a year ago.

Chinese gaming companies have been pushing overseas amid increased saturation and regulation at home. Market leader Tencent said in its recent earnings announcement that it aims to have as many users overseas as it has in China, with half of its revenue coming from outside China in the near future.

Tencent’s Call Of Duty: Mobile took the crown as the most downloaded Chinese title in the first quarter, although in terms of revenue it was behind the three games above.

A separate Sensor Tower report published last week noted equally strong performance by Chinese companies in Japan in the first quarter. Out of the top 100 highest-grossing games, 23 were developed by Chinese companies, generating total revenue of US$488mil. NetEase is the market leader in Japan among Chinese gaming companies with three titles – Knives Out, Identity V and LifeAfter – featuring in the top 100 highest-grossing games in the country.

Chinese anime game Arknights, created by YoStar and HyperGryph and launched in January, has created a stir in both the US and Japan. The game generated more than US$1.2mil in revenue in the US in the first quarter, making it the most successful Chinese anime game ever. In comparison, Bilibili’s anime hit Fate/Grand Order only achieved the same level of profitability in its fourth quarter of sales.

The strong showing for Chinese games in the US is in line with a global boom for online entertainment amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen lockdowns and social distancing measures put into effect.

In the US, total revenue from mobile games across Apple’s App Store and Google Play grew 21.4% year on year to US$4.54bil. Game downloads increased by 24.6% year on year