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3 reasons why China is a strategic direction for video games developers in 2024

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If Chinese gamers were to establish their own country - it would be the 3rd largest populated country in the world. With estimated 772 million players in 2024 - Chinese gaming market is the world's largest gaming market.

If that is not enough of a reason - check out even more facts about video games in China.

As 2023 is ending, it is the time for the gaming industry to revise strategies for upcoming years. And if expansion to China is not a part of your strategy - here’s a few reasons why it should be:

  • Size of the market
  • Increasing availability of the market
  • Engaged community

1️⃣ Size of the market: A giant in the video games world.

Due to its games market size, China is called the “Games Industry Capital of the World”. With over half of the country's population (there are 1,4 BILLION people in China.) actively playing games, the projections for 2024 are no surprise—an estimated 772 million players.

As of 2023 each user spends an average of 445 yuan (US$62) on video games annually . And the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2028) of 9.37%, reaching a projected market volume of $128.40 bn by 2028.

Can you imagine? Such a big market still growing by almost 10% each year? Even better news is that the biggest gaming market is getting more and more available.

2️⃣ Increasing availability of the market

Many game developers don’t actively pursue the Chinese video game market in fear of complicated publishing processes. Well, navigating the regulatory world in China can be challenging, but it is not impossible. And it’s definitely worth taking this challenge - you’ve just read how big the Chinese gaming market is.

The NPPA - National Press and Publication Administration (国家新闻出版署), China's regulatory body overseeing video game licenses, approved a total of 844 domestic and imported video games in 2023 through October 30. This surpasses the figures from 2022 (512 games) and 2021 (755 games), showcasing a positive trend that is likely to stay into 2024.

This is good news if you’re developing mobile games - they can’t be published in China without an ISBN number.

And the Chinese publishers agree. Here is a quote from the 2023 WePlay event in Shanghai, where the Huqiao team gathered insights from industry experts: [Getting a license in China] It’s not hard to do, it’s just a very long process. It’s not that they will refuse to give you the license, they will do it for sure, you just need to adjust the game to the requirements. There are some shortcuts, for example if you apply from Shanghai it will take forever. It’s better to do it from smaller cities, then it will be quicker.

But the PC Games market is a whole different story. Presence on global Steam is enough for your PC game to be available in China. You can read more on that in our other article here.

…and there is a significant Chinese audience that you can reach there. As of October 2023, an estimated 32,33% of Steam gaming platform users use English as their main language. Simplified Chinese (spoken in Mainland China) was the second most common language, selected by 32,22% of worldwide Steam users.

Chinese publishers also shared other insights with our team during WePlay 2023: PC games is the direction China is going towards right now, this market will be expanding.

So we can expect that Chinese-speaking Steam users can soon be the biggest community there.

3️⃣ Engaged community: loyal fan base

So we know that Chinese gamers are the second biggest group on Steam. Moreover, from our experience - they are also more likely to engage and participate in the gaming community. More than 80% of Chinese gamers watch influencers, especially their livestreams on platforms like Douyu, Huya and Bilibili. And this number is still growing.  According to data from Niko's China Games & Streaming Tracker, the total viewers and tips for these platforms saw a year-on-year increase of 6.2% and 12.7%, respectively, for the period between January and September 2023.  That’s why increasing your game’s visibility in China should involve relevant KOLs and community management.

The key is, of course, localization of the game - it has to be available in simplified Chinese in order to gain a community in China.

Summary

In conclusion, as game companies set their sights on the horizon of 2024, the three main reasons for including China in their strategy are:

  • China is the biggest video games market in the world, with est. 772 million players in 2024 and they’re the ones that’s  influential in creating trends for the whole gaming industry.
  • It is more and more accessible both for mobile games and PC games industry. Second biggest community on Steam comes from China - and they can discover your PC game just a click away.
  • 80% of Chinese players watch online influencers. Next time they can watch content about your game.

1 out of 4 players in the world is Chinese - so embracing China is not a question of why, but how.

If, after reading this article, you're convinced that you need to plan your marketing strategy for China and want to learn more, set up a 30 min call with our CEO & Founder, Wojtek.

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