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China Mobile Gaming Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Mobile Gaming market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report looks at games available on mobile devices (ie smartphones and tablets).

Mobile gaming refers to video games that are either partially or primarily played through a live network connection (usually the internet), especially ones enabling two or more players to participate simultaneously from different locations and games that do not require an active network connection for gameplay but only use the internet to post high scores, download game elements or exchange data.

Market size data represents cost of purchasing mobile games from app stores (including Apple’s App Store and Yingyongbao), in-game purchases and subscription/membership fees etc.

Games on handheld consoles (eg Nintendo 3DS, PS Vita) are not included in this Report.

What you need to know

The market for mobile games accounts for 57% of the total gaming market and is expected to reach RMB 264,550 million in 2023. As mobile technology surges ahead like never before and consumers become more accepting of in-game purchase, the mobile gaming market has great potential in China.

This report provides an overview of the Chinese mobile gaming market, including market size and forecast, market factors and analysis of key players in this market. This Report also divides consumers’ attitudes towards in-game purchase into four clusters. Issues and insights about improving gamers’ retentions, the proper way of displaying in-game ads and the niche market under the dominance of Tencent and NetEase are also discussed in this report.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Terence Zhou, a leading analyst in the Technology sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

More and more gamers are playing on mobile devices while the average playing time has increased slightly compared to last year. Consumers have more motivations to make in-game purchases than before and they tend to try variety of games. Therefore, increasing players’ retention rate and motivations for in-game purchases are vital to a game’s success. Terence Zhou
Technology Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Gaming revenue growth to continue
              • Other app categories closing the gap
                • Gaming the largest app category for purchasing
                  • Gaming revolutionised with cross-play and cross-progress
                    • Mobile an emerging eSport segment
                      • Messenger apps offer instant-access social gaming
                        • Companies and brands
                          • Candy Crush a lesson in game longevity
                            • ROBLOX offers users an immersive gaming world
                              • Pokémon ties mobile gaming with the Nintendo Switch
                                • Epic Games bypasses Google Play with Android Fortnite release
                                  • Google maps supports location-based games
                                    • ASUS ROG smartphone a high-spec device for gaming
                                      • The consumer
                                        • Gaming branches out beyond dedicated gaming apps
                                          • Those that play mobile games do so regularly
                                            • Figure 1: Regularity of app usage, by category, July 2018
                                          • Short-burst gaming formats lead mobile genres
                                            • Adventure and Action games have significant room for growth
                                              • Consumable purchases ideal for single-player gaming
                                                • Cosmetic items are gaming’s solution to “pay-to-win”
                                                  • Figure 2: Types of purchases made in mobile games, July 2018
                                                • Word of mouth most likely to prompt discovery
                                                  • Brand awareness through mobile and console game spin-offs
                                                    • Game trailers remain an effective promotional tool
                                                      • Mobile gaming still most often done alone
                                                        • Social gaming most popular with friends
                                                          • Figure 3: Social mobile gaming, July 2018
                                                        • Competing for rewards an appealing aspect
                                                          • Battery life an important barrier to regular gaming
                                                            • Daily rewards a simple way to foster loyalty
                                                              • Data usage not a deal-breaker
                                                                • Multi-platforming provides additional revenue streams
                                                                  • Figure 4: Barriers and incentives to mobile gaming, July 2018
                                                                • What we think
                                                                • Issues and Insights

                                                                  • Will more games choose to bypass the Play Store?
                                                                    • The facts
                                                                      • The implications
                                                                        • The effect of cross-play and cross-progress
                                                                          • The facts
                                                                            • The implications
                                                                              • Do purchasable cosmetic items translate from core gaming platforms to mobile?
                                                                                • The facts
                                                                                  • The implications
                                                                                  • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                                                    • Strong gaming revenue growth
                                                                                      • Other app categories are catching up
                                                                                        • Gaming remains main app category for purchasing
                                                                                          • Game franchises continue to expand to mobile
                                                                                            • Gaming revolutionised with cross-play and cross-progress
                                                                                              • Mobile an emerging eSport segment
                                                                                                • Innovation creating new trends in mobile gaming
                                                                                                • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                  • Gaming revenue growth to continue
                                                                                                    • Figure 5: Forecast for the value of the UK mobile gaming market, 2013-23
                                                                                                  • Other app categories closing the gap
                                                                                                    • Figure 6: Mobile gaming and total mobile device app revenue in the UK Apple App Store and Google Play, 2013-23
                                                                                                    • Figure 7: Top app categories on the UK Apple App Store and Google Play, by revenue, H1 2018
                                                                                                  • Forecast methodology
                                                                                                  • Market Drivers

                                                                                                    • Gaming the largest app category for purchasing
                                                                                                      • Figure 8: App purchasing, July 2018
                                                                                                      • Figure 9: In-app purchasing, July 2018
                                                                                                    • Game franchises continue to expand to mobile
                                                                                                      • Gaming revolutionised with cross-play and cross-progress
                                                                                                        • Cross-play in a competitive environment
                                                                                                          • Spend on mobile advertising increases
                                                                                                            • Figure 10: Mobile adspend as a proportion of total digital expenditure, 2010-17
                                                                                                          • Mobile an emerging eSport segment
                                                                                                            • Innovation creating new trends in mobile gaming
                                                                                                              • Augmented reality and real-time location services
                                                                                                                • Massively-multiplayer games
                                                                                                                  • Increasing pressure to protect children in games
                                                                                                                    • Messenger apps offer instant-access social gaming
                                                                                                                    • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                      • Candy Crush a lesson in game longevity
                                                                                                                        • ROBLOX offers users an immersive gaming world
                                                                                                                          • Niantic maintain a dedicated following
                                                                                                                            • Pokémon ties mobile gaming with the Nintendo Switch
                                                                                                                              • Epic Games bypasses Google Play with Android Fortnite release
                                                                                                                                • ASUS ROG smartphone a high-spec device for gaming
                                                                                                                                • Market Share

                                                                                                                                  • Candy Crush a lesson in game longevity
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 11: Top mobile games on the iOS App Store, by UK revenue, H1 2018
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 12: Top mobile games on Google Play, by UK revenue, H1 2018
                                                                                                                                  • ROBLOX offers users an immersive gaming world
                                                                                                                                    • Niantic maintain a dedicated following
                                                                                                                                    • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                                                                      • Bethesda announces RPG based on the Elder Scrolls series
                                                                                                                                        • Pokémon ties mobile gaming with the Nintendo Switch
                                                                                                                                          • New Apple iPhones renew focus on gaming
                                                                                                                                            • Epic Games bypasses Google Play with Android Fortnite release
                                                                                                                                              • EA revives its Command & Conquer series with a mobile game
                                                                                                                                                • Google maps supports location-based games
                                                                                                                                                  • Location-based gaming expands with Harry Potter: Wizards Unite
                                                                                                                                                    • ASUS ROG smartphone a high-spec device for gaming
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 13: The ASUS Republic of Gaming smartphone
                                                                                                                                                    • Apple removes independent gambling apps
                                                                                                                                                    • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                                                                                                      • Niantic and King’s advertising reflects dominant position in mobile gaming
                                                                                                                                                        • TV and digital display advertising lead promotional materials
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 14: Total above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising expenditure on mobile gaming, Aug 2017-Jul 2018
                                                                                                                                                        • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                                                                                                        • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                                                          • Gaming branches out beyond dedicated gaming apps
                                                                                                                                                            • Those that play mobile games do so regularly
                                                                                                                                                              • Short-burst gaming formats lead mobile genres
                                                                                                                                                                • Adventure and Action games have significant room for growth
                                                                                                                                                                  • Virtual currency creates an in-game economy
                                                                                                                                                                    • Consumable purchases ideal for single-player gaming
                                                                                                                                                                      • Cosmetic items are gaming’s solution to “pay-to-win”
                                                                                                                                                                        • Mobile gaming still most often done alone
                                                                                                                                                                          • Battery life an important barrier to regular gaming
                                                                                                                                                                          • Gaming App Usage

                                                                                                                                                                            • Gaming branches out beyond dedicated gaming apps
                                                                                                                                                                              • Those that play mobile games do so regularly
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 15: Regularity of app usage, by category, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • Women match men on mobile gaming
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 16: Regularity of gaming app usage, by gender, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                            • Genres Played

                                                                                                                                                                              • Short-burst gaming formats lead mobile genres
                                                                                                                                                                                • Adventure and Action games have significant room for growth
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 17: Genres of mobile game played, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                              • In-game Purchasing

                                                                                                                                                                                • Virtual currency creates an in-game economy
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 18: Purchasing of in-game currency, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                • Consumable purchases ideal for single-player gaming
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Cosmetic items are gaming’s solution to “pay-to-win”
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Randomised bundles help maintain an item economy
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Types of purchases made in mobile games, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Game Discovery

                                                                                                                                                                                    • Word of mouth most likely to prompt discovery
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 20: Motivations for game downloads, by all users and in-app purchasers, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                    • Brand awareness through mobile and console game spin-offs
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Game trailers remain an effective promotional tool
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Social Gaming

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mobile gaming still most often done alone
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Social gaming most popular with friends
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 21: Social mobile gaming, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Competing for rewards an appealing aspect
                                                                                                                                                                                            • In-game communication is not yet refined on mobile
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 22: Appeal of social gaming, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Barriers and Incentives to Gaming

                                                                                                                                                                                            • Battery life an important barrier to regular gaming
                                                                                                                                                                                              • Daily rewards a simple way to foster loyalty
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Data usage not a deal-breaker
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Dedicated gaming devices pique the interest of over a quarter of gamers
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Multi-platforming provides additional revenue streams
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 23: Barriers and incentives to mobile gaming, July 2018
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations, and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Market forecast
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 24: Forecast of UK mobile gaming revenue, 2018-23
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Forecast methodology