Honkai: Star Rail launched last month, and has already claimed the crown of 2023’s biggest mobile release. Now, the Financial Times has analysed the game’s performance, and how MiHoyo is aiming to challenge market leader Tencent for the crown of China’s gaming scene.
MiHoYo first entered the game space in earnest in 2020 with the launch of Genshin Impact, which has gone on to generate more than $4.8 billion in revenue on mobile alone. With Honkai: Star Rail it appears that the company hopes to see the game supplant its biggest moneymaker, with one unnamed employee stating, “It’s clear the intention is to make it at least as big as Genshin Impact and to make it the main title of the company.”
The Financial Times reports that how the game performs will determine whether or not MiHoYo can solidify its market position alongside industry heavyweight such as Tencent and NetEase, who enjoy a respective 50% and 20% share of the Chinese market, according to Goldman Sachs research. In contrast, most other large gaming markets, such as North America, Europe, and Japan, typically see large publishers achieve market shares of less than 10%.
Blazing trails and breaking records
China is the world’s largest mobile market, and has become increasingly competitive in recent years, as game makers have focused on developing games with international appeal to combat slowing growth and regulatory changes, including a restriction on playtime among young gamers. This has allowed game makers such as MiHoYo to make significant inroads in the market. As a result of this, Chinese game makers saw their combined global market share increase from 19% in 2019 to 22% in 2022.
Will Honkai: Star Rail continue its meteoric rise? It’s important to note that the company has both an increased profile thanks to the established success of Genshin Impact, and that Honkai: Star Rail is just the latest entry in an established franchise. The game has already broken records with over 20 million downloads within two days of release, and was April’s third highest-grossing title in the USA despite its launch late in the month. As such, while it may be too early to say whether MiHoYo can take pole position in the Chinese market with Honkai: Star Rail, it’s certainly on the right track to challenge, or even overtake, the market leaders.
We listed MiHoYo, NetEase, and Tencent as three of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.