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Why you should be optimistic about mobile gaming in China

Game licence approvals offer new opportunities to Tencent, miHoYo and others
Why you should be optimistic about mobile gaming in China

The new wave of Chinese game releases and approvals represents a positive, much-needed rebound for the gaming industry at large, with this Spring providing new opportunities to Tencent, NetEase, miHoYo and more.

While Tencent has a number of PC games on the way, NetEase and miHoYo are both testing launching mobile games following the easing of stringent restrictions in China.

A freeze on new game licences that lasted almost nine months was finally lifted in 2022, but approvals for new titles were still given sparingly. Not only that, but China’s gaming crackdown also encompassed limitations on the play times of young people, on livestreaming, and more.

As for 2023, there have already been a plethora of changes worth being optimistic about; in January there were 88 new licences approved, followed by 87 in February and another 86 in March, representing a return to levels last seen in 2020.

In the pipeline

Games approved and much anticipated include a beta test for Justice Online by NetEase, a mobile adaptation of its PC game by the same name, which is launching later this month on 28 April. Honkai: Star Rail is also due to launch this month, coming on 26 April as miHoYo’s first title since smash hit Genshin Impact. The RPG was granted its licence in January and is initially launching on Android, iOS, PC and the Epic Games Store, having seen more than 20 million registrations by the end of March.

As reported by South China Morning Post, mobile game sales represented more than 70 percent of China’s total game sales last year, and yet even so, they fell by 14.4 percent. It seems like this could turn around in 2023, with Niko Partners expecting this year’s total number of licence approvals to surpass the combined total of 2021 and 2022.

Gaming app installs are also seeing a positive turn in the West this year; in Q1, installs climbed by 10 from the 2022 average, according to an Adjust report.