The Chinese mobile games market: bigger but still different

Winding roads

The Chinese mobile games market: bigger but still different

Given its large population and fast-growing middle class, the idea that China will become the most valuable mobile games market - at some point - is not a new one.

In that context, the news that - according to App Annie estimates - it's overtaken Japan as the #2 iOS market in terms of value, isn't a surprise.

Games over-indexed

App Annie says the Chinese market grew by 2.2 times in terms of comparing the January-March 2016 period to the same quarter in 2015.

Games are the main driver of Chinese growth - the category is more important in China than the #1 US market, for example.

Top titles included NetEase's Fantasy Westward Journey and Tencent's Hero Moba and The Legend of Mir 2. Two of those three are the mobile versions of popular PC games.

A minor aside: the total number of downloads 'only' grew 2x, so there's a slight trend of better revenue per download; again, as we'd expect from a maturing consumer society.

Video blockers

More interesting, though, is the suggestion that Chinese mobile users (not specifically gamers) are less receptive to video ads.

Thanks to the optimisation of rewarded video ads within core gameplay and meta-game loops, this has been a key driver of revenue for mobile game developers over the past 18 months cf Crossy Road et al.

But eMarketer (reporting others) says that only 9 percent of Chinese users are "receptive" to mobile video ads.

That compares to 19 percent worldwide.

Of course, it could be that with the Chinese mobile ad industry less developed than in the west, its audiences haven't experienced high quality rewarded video ads in the same way.

More generally, Chinese users are more sensitive to data charges; something that may influence their views on data-eating video ads.

Nevertheless, it does underline the cultural differences between even big markets, and the impact this will have on how their ecosystems develop and mature.

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.