Data & Research

Why all data on the size of the Chinese mobile game market is wrong

Making it up as they go

Why all data on the size of the Chinese mobile game market is wrong

The confusing mess that is the size of Chinese mobile game market continues to... well, be confusing.

The latest numbers - reported by TechNode - are from three research firm - GPC, CNG and IDC.

They report mobile game sales in 2014 were RMB 27.5 billion (around $4.4 billion).

This number is on the high side, but it's not entirely disconnected from the circa $4 billion market size that was expected, assuming you think 10 percent is an acceptable error. 

For example, rival analysts iResearch had estimated the first nine months of 2014 resulted in mobile game sales of RMB 19.1 billion.

Clearly Q4 sales of RMB 8.4 billion would result in the same full year number, although given iResearch's Q3 revenue was RMB 7.0 billion, that would assume quarter-on-quarter growth of 24 percent.

iResearch figures on the for the first nine months of Chinese market are lower

And that would be very high compared to the 9 percent quarter-on-quarter growth iResearch reports between Q2 and Q3.


However, the most odd thing about these new numbers is the headline claim that the Chinese mobile game market grew 145 percent between 2013 and 2014.

All the indications during 2014 is that growth rate has been dropping and that it would drop from the three-digit-growth between 2012 and 2013 to perhaps 80-90 percent from 2013 to 2014.

One estimate of the growth of the Chinese mobile games market from GPC, CNG and IDC

The reason for the 145 percent growth rate is that PC, CNG and IDC has lowballed 2013's revenues.

It claims mobile game sales of RMB 11.24 billion compared to RMB 14.8 billion from iResearch.

It's a reminder that given the complex nature of the Chinese mobile games business, which suffers from fragment Android distribution and billing platforms, even so-called experts are often making a best guess.

And that's why you should never trust any of the numbers they claim, instead comparing them with other data to try and see the patterns the entire Chinese analyst sector is throwing out. 

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.