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China Online Gaming Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Online 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?

Key points included

  • Smart TVs: advanced entertainment centres
  • Online gaming can be utilized as a social channel
  • Make gamers happy to spend more money and gametime

Covered in this report

Online games refer 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. 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, are excluded from this definition.

Online games include all genres and can be played on PCs, mobile phones, consoles and other devices. Smart TVs in this report refer to smart TVs, projectors and internet TV boxes.

Market size data represents the value of in-game purchases and subscription/membership fees. The market value of game purchases (ie upfront fees paid by users to download/purchase games), game devices, other revenue of game makers (eg advertising and revenue made in overseas markets) and revenues from e-sports tournaments are not included in the market size.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Kaye Huang, a leading analyst in the Media sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

With the dominance of smartphones and mobile gaming, easy-to-play games are the prevailing trend in the mass market and are primed for further penetration in lower tier cities and new internet users. PC gaming, on the other hand, attracts more sophisticated gamers, meaning developing games that offer more of a challenge is an opportunity in this category. Innovation in the gaming market should increase its focus on gaming content and social features without being limiting to particular game genres, as Chinese online gamers are open minded towards multiple game genres Kaye Huang
Media Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Covered in this report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Growth slowed but still promising
              • Figure 1: Best- and worst-case forecast of market value of online gaming, China, 2014-24
            • Mobile gaming’s lead and threat to other gaming types increases
              • Figure 2: Market value of online gaming segments, 2014-19
            • Companies and brands
              • Highly concentrated market
                • Figure 3: Leading companies in online gaming market, by value share, China, 2017 and 2018
              • The consumer
                • Fierce competition between gaming devices
                  • Figure 4: Gaming devices, June 2019
                • Three hours on each type of devices
                  • Figure 5: Gaming hours per week, June 2019
                • What matters is gaming content
                  • Figure 6: Online game genres played, June 2019
                • High rate of spending
                  • Figure 7: Types of expenditures for online gaming, June 2019
                • Each channel has value
                  • Figure 8: Information channels for new games, June 2019
                • Paying reluctantly to stay competitive
                  • Figure 9: Attitudes towards payment system in gaming market, June 2019
                • Fight for screen time with other digital entertainment
                  • Figure 10: Attitudes towards online games as daily entertainment, June 2019
                • Make it more social
                  • Figure 11: Attitudes towards the social function of online games, June 2019
                • Consumer segmentation
                  • Figure 12: Segmentations of online gamers, June 2019
                • Who are they?
                  • What we think
                  • Issues and Insights

                    • Smart TVs: advanced entertainment centres
                      • The facts
                        • The implications
                          • Figure 13: Ranking of gaming apps on Dangbei
                        • Online gaming as social channel
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                              • Figure 14: Social benefits for paying members of Tencent Video and Mango TV
                            • Make gamers happy to spend more
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                  • Controls on the number of new games slowed growth
                                    • Booming mobile gaming market
                                      • Official recognition of e-sports-related professions further eliminates public’s doubts about gaming
                                      • Market Size and Forecast

                                        • China’s online gaming market slowed down in 2018 due to licensing freeze
                                          • Figure 15: Best- and worst-case forecast of market value of online gaming, China, 2014-24
                                        • Nearly half of China’s population (45%) are online gamers
                                          • Figure 16: Number of online gamers, 2014-18
                                        • The rise and fall of internet cafés coincides with the trends in online gaming market
                                          • Figure 17: Number of business sites providing internet access services, 2014-18
                                      • Market Drivers

                                        • Data price deflation
                                          • High penetration and improved features of smartphones
                                            • The arrival of 5G will revolutionise gaming market
                                              • The official recognition of e-sports
                                                • Traditional culture fever provides new ideas for gaming market
                                                  • High willingness to pay for games
                                                  • Market Challenges

                                                    • Slowdown in the approval of new games and concerns about children’s health
                                                      • Tight government control of gaming content
                                                        • New pricing strategy needed to attract gamers
                                                        • Market Segmentation

                                                            • Figure 18: Market value of online gaming segments, 2014-19
                                                            • Figure 19: Number of gamers of three main online gaming segments, 2012-18
                                                          • Mobile games surpass PC games as the largest segment in 2016
                                                            • Figure 20: Best- and worst-case forecast of market value of mobile gaming, China, 2014-24
                                                          • PC games are here to stay
                                                            • Figure 21: Best- and worst-case forecast of market value of PC gaming, China, 2014-24
                                                          • Shrinking segment: web gaming
                                                            • Figure 22: Best- and worst-case forecast of market value of web gaming, China, 2014-24
                                                          • Mini-program games: strategy to maintain active users but unlikely to make money from existing pricing model
                                                            • Figure 23: Best- and worst-case forecast of market value of mini-program gaming, China, 2014-24
                                                          • Cloudy future for console games in China market
                                                            • Figure 24: Best- and worst-case forecast of market value of console gaming, China, 2014-24
                                                            • Figure 25: Marketing image of vivo NEX Dual Display Edition
                                                        • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                          • Online gaming market is getting even more concentrated
                                                            • Seeking more battlegrounds
                                                              • Leading companies continue to set new playing rules
                                                              • Market Share

                                                                  • Figure 26: Leading companies in online gaming market, by value share, China, 2017 and 2018
                                                                • Small gaming companies feel the squeeze
                                                                  • Bilibili: ACG specialist with potential
                                                                    • Perfect World and Giant Interactive seek business growth through diversification
                                                                      • Lack of further investment in R&D limits growth of Changyou.com and Kingnet Network
                                                                      • Competitive Strategies

                                                                        • Game exporting to expand market and avoid fierce competition in China market
                                                                          • Female gaming market doubled from 2015
                                                                            • Figure 27: Market value of female online gaming market and its percentage of total online gaming market, 2015-18
                                                                          • Anime games are winning over Chinese consumers
                                                                            • Figure 28: Market value of anime online gaming market and its percentage of total online gaming market, 2016-18
                                                                        • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                          • Cloud-based gaming takes off in 5G era
                                                                            • Leading companies proposed game classification system in June 2019
                                                                              • Steam China vs Wegame
                                                                                • Nintendo teams up with Tencent to launch the Switch in China
                                                                                  • Tencent is supporting Chinese game developers
                                                                                    • Tap into trendy social issues
                                                                                      • Figure 29: Homepage of jumping trash mini-program on WeChat
                                                                                  • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                    • Future focus: female gaming market
                                                                                      • Smartphones lead
                                                                                        • Smart TVs rising threat for static consoles
                                                                                          • Variety of game genres are played
                                                                                            • Most gamers are paying reluctantly
                                                                                              • Social attributes of online games should be further developed
                                                                                              • Gaming Devices

                                                                                                • Seizing the opportunity in the female market
                                                                                                  • Figure 30: Percentage of online gamers, by gender and generation, June 2019
                                                                                                • Smartphone leads online gaming but PC is here to stay
                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Gaming devices, June 2019
                                                                                                • More opportunities for portable gaming devices in female market
                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Selected gaming devices, by gender and generation, June 2019
                                                                                                • Online laptop gamers switch to mobile games when they get older
                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Selected gaming devices, by generation, June 2019
                                                                                                • Smart TVs will challenge the console market
                                                                                                  • Figure 34: Selected gaming devices, by generation, June 2019
                                                                                              • Gaming Hours

                                                                                                • Three hours on each type of device
                                                                                                  • Games on smart TVs win over heavy and casual gamers
                                                                                                    • Figure 35: Gaming hours per week, June 2019
                                                                                                • Online Game Genres Played

                                                                                                  • Gamers play good variety of games
                                                                                                    • Figure 36: Online game genres played, June 2019
                                                                                                  • Women are more into leisure and emotional engagement
                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Online game genres played, by gender, June 2019
                                                                                                  • Leisure games are more popular among older consumers
                                                                                                    • Survive by selling nostalgia: real time strategy games
                                                                                                      • Figure 38: Selected online game genres played, by generation, June 2019
                                                                                                    • What matters for sophisticated gamers is the gaming content not genre
                                                                                                      • Figure 39: Number of game genres played, by number of gaming devices owned, June 2019
                                                                                                  • Spending on Gaming

                                                                                                    • 85% of gamers have paid for online gaming
                                                                                                      • Figure 40: Types of expenditures for online gaming, June 2019
                                                                                                    • Promising future for game peripheral products
                                                                                                      • Will paying for downloads survive?
                                                                                                        • Young consumers: interact with other gamers and games
                                                                                                          • Figure 41: Types of expenditures for online gaming, by generations, June 2019
                                                                                                          • Figure 42: Images of 361° x CF flagship store
                                                                                                        • Charging for extension of playing time is outdated
                                                                                                        • Information Channel for New Games

                                                                                                          • “Word-of-mouth” is the key
                                                                                                            • Figure 43: Information channels for new games, June 2019
                                                                                                          • Can’t give up any of these information channels
                                                                                                            • Online forums/BBS can reach more post-2000s and game addicts
                                                                                                              • Figure 44: Selected information channels for new games, by generations, June 2019
                                                                                                            • Take good advantage of official websites
                                                                                                              • Figure 45: Information channels for new games, by types of online games played, June 2019
                                                                                                              • Figure 46: Images of Steam Labs
                                                                                                          • Attitudes towards Online Gaming

                                                                                                            • Many are paying reluctantly for online gaming
                                                                                                              • Figure 47: Attitudes towards payment system in gaming market, June 2019
                                                                                                            • Excitement for relaxation
                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Attitudes towards online games as daily entertainment, June 2019
                                                                                                            • Make it more social
                                                                                                              • Figure 49: Attitudes towards the social function of online games, June 2019
                                                                                                          • Consumer Segmentation

                                                                                                              • Figure 50: Segmentations of online gamers, June 2019
                                                                                                            • Who are they?
                                                                                                                • Figure 51: Consumer segmentations, by generation, June 2019
                                                                                                                • Figure 52: Consumer segmentations, by income level, June 2019
                                                                                                                • Figure 53: Consumer segmentations, by city tier, June 2019
                                                                                                              • Current pricing strategy doesn’t satisfy Time Gamers and Social Gamers
                                                                                                                  • Figure 54: Attitudes towards payment system in gaming market, by consumer segmentation, June 2019
                                                                                                                • Core RMB Gamers enjoy challenges in games
                                                                                                                  • Figure 55: Attitudes towards online games as daily entertainment, by consumer segmentation, June 2019
                                                                                                                • Socializing is mainstream demand
                                                                                                                  • Figure 56: Attitudes towards the social function of online games, June 2019
                                                                                                                  • Figure 57: Bullet comments of The King of Brainstorming
                                                                                                                • How to attract Core RMB Gamers to traditional card and chess games and leisure games?
                                                                                                                    • Figure 58: Selected game genres played, by consumer segmentation, June 2019
                                                                                                                • Meet the Mintropolitans

                                                                                                                  • MinTs welcome a challenge in games
                                                                                                                    • Figure 59: Selected gaming devices, by consumer classification, June 2019
                                                                                                                  • MinTs play more types of games
                                                                                                                    • Figure 60: Types of game genres played, by consumer classification, June 2019
                                                                                                                  • MinTs are willing to spend more on gaming
                                                                                                                    • Figure 61: Types of expenditures for online gaming, by consumer classification, June 2019
                                                                                                                • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                    • Figure 62: Total value of online gaming market, China, 2014-24
                                                                                                                • Appendix – Market Segmentation

                                                                                                                    • Figure 63: Value of online gaming segments, China, 2014-24
                                                                                                                • Appendix – Methodology and Abbreviations

                                                                                                                  • Methodology
                                                                                                                    • Fan chart forecast
                                                                                                                      • Abbreviations