China rolls back zero-covid policy, but what does this mean for mobile gaming?

The easing of lockdown restrictions could signal a sharp decine for the country's mobile market

China rolls back zero-covid policy, but what does this mean for mobile gaming?

The Chinese government has announced the abandonment of parts of its zero lockdown policy following a fresh spate of protests throughout the country.

Under the terms of the policy, people infected with the disease were taken to state facilities and strict travel restrictions were imposed throughout the country. Now, residents with mild or no symptoms can isolate at home, travel more freely throughout China, and are no longer required to show test results for most venues.

Thus far, the country has maintained strict protocols to curb the virus, even as other countries worldwide have eased their restrictions, and the Chinese government has been the recipient of criticism both within and outside the country for the at times harsh implementation of these policies.

What does this mean for the mobile industry?

China remains one of the world’s foremost mobile markets, and is the home for several of the world’s biggest mobile game developers such as Tencent and NetEase, with the former being the most profitable games company in the world.

The country has recently taken drastic actions to curb gaming addiction, including a lengthy hiatus on games licensing and the imposition of strict restrictions on playtime for younger gamers.

Covid caused an unprecedented boom for the games industry, as established players and newcomers alike either sought out new forms of entertainment or spent more time in-game. Worldwide, the games market is now normalising post-Covid, leading to decreased profits, although in many cases revenue and downloads remain above pre-pandemic levels.

The easing of lockdown restrictions could signal further decline for many Chinese companies as players take advantage of a wider range of entertainment options. Coupled with the other factors, such as the restrictions on how long and often younger players can spend in-game, and this decline could be heightened.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and while China has some way to go before it loses its status as one of the largest mobile-first markets in the world, this mix of factors could see the country’s mobile industry experience a greater fall than elsewhere in the world.

Last month, the Financial Times forecast a significant slump in China’s mobile market.

Staff Writer

Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He's been a gamer all his life.