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China expected to overtake U.S. as world’s biggest mobile gaming market

chinese mobile gaming, chinese gaming market

China's enormous population is giving it spending power that will outstrip even consumers in the United States this year in certain sectors – such as mobile gaming.


Smartphone and tablet games should generate more than $5.5 billion through the end of 2015, according to a new report from Asia market-intelligence firm Niko Partners. That is a huge chunk of the $30 billion that people spend on mobile gaming worldwide, and it is also a 66 percent year-over-year increase from $3.3 billion in Chinese spending last year. And this makes China a bigger spender on mobile gaming than the United States. Obviously, that kind of money has to look enticing to game developers around the world.

根据亚洲市场研究公司Niko Partners的最新报告,中国今年的智能手机和平板电脑游戏将创收逾55亿美元,在300亿美元的全球总收入中占据很高比例,与去年的33亿美元相比更是增长66%。这将帮助中国超越美国,成为全球第一大移动游戏市场。如此庞大的市场显然能吸引世界各地的游戏开发者。

"We believe that games become popular because they fill a void for gamers," Niko founder and managing partner Lisa Cosmas Hanson said. "It is important to evaluate what voids there are in Chinese culture, and then match game development to those as well as to the gamer behavior and characteristics of a good mobile game in a popular genre."

"我们相信游戏之所以流行是因为它填补了玩家的空白。"Niko Partners创始人兼管理合伙人丽莎·考斯马斯·汉森说,"关键要评估中国文化中的这片空白,将游戏开发与这些空白以及玩家的行为相匹配,还要参考优秀移动游戏的特征。"

"With a focus on filling voids mobile game developers may find their way to the next big Chinese hit game," said Hanson. "Because hoping to make it big with an international title lobbed to a Chinese publisher for localization is not an effective path to success."


Put differently, China is a convoluted market with several barriers to entry even for some of the biggest developers in the world. That's why, despite China's spending, most developers will still have an easier time finding success in the United States and other Western territories.


The problem with China is that success is nearly impossible without a local publishing partner. Android is far more popular than iOS, but Google's Play Store does not have a significant presence. Instead, dozens of companies run their own app-distribution channels. And developers need publishing partners to help it forge the deals to get onto those stores.

如果缺乏本土发行商的配合,几乎不可能在中国取得成功。Android在中国的流行度远高于iOS,但谷歌Play Store份额却很低。事实上,已经有数十家公司推出了自己的应用分销渠道,开发者需要依靠合作发行商的帮助,才能与这些商店达成协议。

When developers do find a publisher, they have to give up a far bigger split of the revenues than is customary in the West. In the U.S., a mobile developer often gives a 30 percent cut to Apple or Google. In China, studios have to give 30 percent to the publisher and another 30 percent to the distributors.


And then there is average revenue per player (ARPU). Yes, China's $5.5 billion is a far larger number than the $4.5 billion that U.S. mobile gamers will spend this year, but that is largely due to the 420 million people who play mobile games in China. That's nearly 100 million more than there are human beings in the United States. Estimates put the number of mobile gamers in the U.S. at around 165 million in 2015.


The difference in gaming populations means that developers will have an easier time squeezing cash from players in the U.S. That's because the average revenue for each Chinese player is only worth $13.10 compared to the $27.27 value of an average U.S. player.


The ARPU alone probably wouldn't scare most developers away from China, and indeed it doesn't. But when combined with the smaller cut of revenues, the corporate maze to release a game in China, and the rough competition, it's easy for developers to find reasons to put off entering the world's biggest market for mobile gaming.



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