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Chinese mobile publishers see an end of year revenue turnaround despite industry challenges

Tencent dominates, but other publishers are also finding success with Chinese companies holding 37 of the top 100 global revenue rankings for November
Chinese mobile publishers see an end of year revenue turnaround despite industry challenges
Date Type Companies Involved Key Datapoint
Dec 8, 2023 report
  • The forthcoming holiday season is expected to contribute to a surge in global mobile game revenue, providing opportunities for proactive developers

Intelligence platform Sensor Tower latest report reveals that 37 of mobile game publishers in the top 100 global revenue rankings for November were based in China. This 37 amassed a total revenue of $1.87 billion, accounting for 38.3% of the global top 100 mobile game publishers' revenue during the month, indicating a significant presence in the international market.

Following the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak, the global mobile gaming market experienced explosive growth fueled by stay-at-home restrictions. However, this surge peaked in January 2021 and has since entered a period of stabilization. 

The first half of 2023 saw a year-on-year decline in monthly revenue for the global mobile game market, amounting to $38.6 billion, reflecting a 4.2% decrease compared to the same period in 2022. However, the report has revealed a positive turn around occurred in the second half, with monthly revenue from July to November experiencing a slight year-on-year increase of 2.2%, reaching $31.7 billion. This holiday season is now expected to contribute to a surge in global mobile game revenue, providing opportunities for proactive developers.

Top performers by revenue

Tencent's Goddess of Victory: Nikki celebrated its first anniversary in November, witnessing a remarkable 117% increase in game revenue. The success was driven by the introduction of new characters and activities, with 60% of the revenue coming from the Japanese market. The company also solidified its position among the top mobile game publishers in Japan, showcasing the potential of expanding into overseas markets.

Although the Chinese mobile games revenues list is dominated by Tencent, other publishers are also finding success in the market.

In the SLG (Strategy and Simulation) genre, developer Century Game's Whiteout Survival defied the overall trend of an 8% monthly revenue shrinkage, by achieving a 5% month-on-month increase in November. This success allowed publisher Diandian Interactive to claim the fourth spot on the list of top Chinese mobile game publishers by revenue.

Publisher Zhaoxiguangnian's Planet: Reboot made a significant impact in the Chinese market, ranking first in China's iPhone mobile game download list within a week of its launch. The game's revenue increased by 24.5% month-on-month, securing the ninth position in the revenue rankings. 

Japanese market strategy pays off

Youxing Network's strategic focus on the Japanese market also yielded impressive results. Games such as Arknights and Sparrow Soul experienced substantial revenue growth in November, driving the publisher's overall revenue up by 65.7%. This catapulted Youxing Network five places up to the 10th position in the revenue rankings.

This performance has allowed the publisher to establish a strong foothold in the competitive Japanese mobile game market. Lemon Weiqu's consolidated mobile games, including Gossip Harbor and Seaside Escape, contributed to the publisher hitting a new revenue high and ascending two places to the 22nd position.

Domestic Successes

The mobile version of the long-standing classic game Three Kingdoms achieved remarkable success with a special Double Eleven event on November 11. This propelled publisher Youka Network to a 40% month-on-month revenue increase, reclaiming the 29th spot on the list. Xindong Network's pixel-style war chess mobile game Sword of Suzuli: For This Peaceful World launched in the Chinese market in November, resulting in a 24.5% month-on-month revenue increase.

Developer 4399 Games' SLG mobile game, Civilization and Conquest, performed well in various markets, becoming the publisher's highest-grossing mobile game. This success led to a 47% month-on-month revenue increase, securing the 30th position on the list. Apart from the aforementioned publishers, Xindong Network, Goat Games, Zhixingtong, Yishijie, Youku Shengshi, Perfect World, and Yale Technology are among the Chinese mobile game publishers shortlisted for the top 100 global revenue list.

App Store rankings

In the Chinese App Store mobile game revenue rankings, Genshin Impact experienced a 33% month-on-month increase in mobile revenue in November, returning to the fourth position. The release of version 4.2 of Sinner's Dance contributed to this achievement.

Golden Shovel War went on to achieve its second revenue peak of the year on November 24, resulting in a 50% month-on-month increase in monthly revenue and securing the second position in China's iPhone mobile game best-selling list for five consecutive days.

Arknights garnered substantial revenue during the ‘Thank You Celebration' series of events for the national server, ranking second on China's iPhone mobile game revenue list. Developer Eagle Point Network's revenue also increased fivefold in November compared to October, returning to the 24th place on the publisher revenue list.

While it hasn't launched fully, the Stone Age IP genuine authorized mobile game Stone Age: Awakening performed well in public beta, claiming the 15th spot on the list and setting the game up for success at launch.