Everybody knows that mobile gaming is big in China. How big? Big enough that, according to a white paper released today by GMGC, China will become the top global market for mobile games by 2016. Citing data from Newzoo Global Games Market Premium, the white paper estimates that mobile gaming revenues in 2015 will hit US$6.1 billion – just below the US's projected revenues for this year at US$6.3 billion.
But in 2016 China is expected to blow past the US for the first time ever, hitting US$7.7 billion in mobile gaming revenues and become the world's top market for mobile games.
Those are just projections, of course, but there's plenty of reason to believe China's mobile gaming market will continue to grow as smartphone penetration and 3G/4G subscription rates continue to rise. The white paper also points out China is particularly fertile ground for mobile games: Chinese phone users spend way more time per day (35 minutes) playing games than they do using any other kind of app. That also puts them well ahead of American mobile gamers, who spend just 11 minutes a day with their games on average. China's day one and week one retention rates for users who've downloaded a new game are both slightly higher than the comparable rates in the US as well. In other words: Chinese gamers keep and play games for longer than their American peers.
China may be a fertile market for mobile gaming, but it isn't a particularly friendly one to newcomers or outsiders. The vast majority of Chinese mobile games lose money, and according to the white paper only four foreign game publishers managed to get games into the top 50 on China's Android game rankings for 2014. The top spots are dominated by major domestic players like Tencent and Netease.