Data & Research

Who knows what? Estimates of the size of Chinese mobile game market differ by $1 billion

How fast is that rocket going?

Who knows what? Estimates of the size of Chinese mobile game market differ by $1 billion

Does anyone know how big the Chinese mobile games industry is?

At the recent ChinaJoy 2014 conference, the Chinese government put out a report that stated in the first half of 204, the mobile game sector was worth RMB 12.5 billion, or $2 billion.

Given the current growth rate of around 90 percent, this suggest the full year figure for 2014 will be around $4 billion.

However, a new report from market intelligence outfit Niko Partners - Chinese Mobile Games Market Report 2014, which consists of 76 slides and costs $7,000 - says that for the entire 12 months of 2014, it predicts the Chinese mobile game market will be worth $2.9 billion.

That's a difference of $1 billion, or 25 percent.

Size of a dragon

The big issue, of course, is that it's very difficult to estimate how much the Chinese Android gaming market is worth because there are multiple app stores and they don't reveal sales details.

In contrast, working out the value of the Chinese Apple App Store is easy.

In terms of Niko's report, it takes estimates about the Apple App Store from App Annie while estimating Android game sales itself.

On this basis, it says the compound growth of the sector between 2013 and 2018 will be around 38 percent.

Niko's prediction of growth in the Chinese mobile game market

Obviously, this average means growth rates will drop over the coming years as the market mature; something that I think will be a strong trend in how the Chinese mobile game sector develops.

Divergent views

It's also worth pointing out that Niko's estimates of the Chinese online PC game market are also different to the official numbers.

It reckons this is annually worth $14 billion, while the official stats say the entire Chinese games market was worth $8 billion in the first six months of 2014, of which $6 billion was from online PC games, so around $12 billion annually. (The PC online game market is growing much slower than mobile games.)

Still, maybe these different values are just artifacts of 'science' of prediction; the vast majority of all predictions are wrong.

Aside from this, perhaps the most interesting piece of data Niko highlights is that from its user surveys, it reckons 38 percent of Chinese mobile gamers pay money.

If true, this would be an incredible high value. Generally, in the west, a figure of 5 percent of players is assumed in terms of the percentage who will buy in-app purchases in any individual game. 

Again. the difference seems likely to be down to whether the Chinese figures should be taken on a per game basis, or a single payment within a particularly period of time. 

As with Chinese, as many questions as answers remain.

You can read about Niko's report here and check out the summary here.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.