Gaining the title of Asia’s largest digital entertainment expo, ChinaJoy kicked off on August 3, lasting four days and inundating Shanghai with countless fans, game panels, trailers, action figures and lucrative business opportunities.
Starting as a small gaming event in 2003, ChinaJoy’s expanding global geek cred showcases the thriving development of China’s gaming industry. The expo attracted over 342,700 visitors in just three days, with more than 4,000 new games being displayed in its whopping 170,000-meter-squared venue.
The torrid heat did not stifle the enthusiasm of fans from all over the world. Tanaka Haroto, a 27-year-old game designer from Japan, told People’s Daily Online that the expo serves as an industrial indicator, as well as a grand gathering for gaming fans worldwide.
“There are over 600 million gamers in China, while the country’s domestically designed games have prevailed in the global market in recent years. It’s a real pleasure to see the rise of a future game-behemoth,” said Tanaka.
An artist uses special-effect makeup to demonstrate the appearance of a game character during ChinaJoy 2018, or the 16th China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference, in east China's Shanghai Municipality, August 4, 2018. ChinaJoy, which kicked off on August 3 and lasts four days, attracted exhibitors from over 30 countries and regions.
Famous game designers, including Tencent, Blizzard, Ubisoft and Sony have also seized the opportunity to launch their newest products and accessories, as well as giving early access to their games. According to statistics, this year’s expo may generate a total trade volume of 475 million U.S. dollars.
“Roughly five percent of our business comes from the Greater China area, and we already have two studios in China, fulfilling the local needs of Chinese players. The Chinese gaming market is a big opportunity for foreign companies like us,” Michael Burk, director of Corporate PR, Ubisoft, told People’s Daily Online.
With 600 million gamers, roughly twice the entire population of the U.S., China has overtaken America as the “global gaming capital” in terms of market size. The country is now the world’s largest mobile games market, accounting for over 25 per cent of global revenue, while domestic games revenue in China is expected to reach a total of $42 billion by 2022.
The success of ChinaJoy has brought great opportunities for its hosting city, Shanghai. According to statistics from the local government, Shanghai is expected to develop at least five to seven online gaming enterprises, generating more than 1.5 billion yuan in revenue annually, while the added value of the cultural and creative industry will account for about 18 percent of the city’s GDP in 2030.
In an effort to support the growth of the domestic gaming industry, as well as attracting foreign companies to establish their business in China, Chinese authorities have launched a series of favorable policies. According to a document released by the China Game Publishers Association Publications Committee in 2017, the government will further protect intellectual property, provide easier access for foreign game companies to enter the Chinese market and promote domestic games worldwide.
In addition to governmental support, Chinese game companies have been focusing on upgrading their technologies, as well as adding more innovative elements to their business. During this year’s ChinaJoy event, the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi released its new gaming laptop with 8th generation CPU, which will significantly optimize user experience, while Beijing-based Oasis Games, along with Sony Interactive Entertainment, launched Monkey King: Hero is Back, China’s first original action game on the PS platform, aiming to bring authentic Chinese classics to a global audience via a high quality gameplay experience.
“The rise of the gaming industry in China is remarkable. For instance, China’s Tencent has already become the world’s largest gaming company. If you are a gamer, it’s very likely that no matter what game you are into, they are designed or made by Chinese companies,” said Tanaka.
Dive into the global arena
With a booming domestic market, Chinese tech-giants are now marching ahead in the global gaming market, with the country’s online games raking in at least $8.2 billion in the foreign market in 2017, up 14.5 percent year-on-year.
According to the 2017 China Gaming Industry Report, published by the State Administration of Radio and Television, China has emerged as a major exporter of online games. Chinese games are among the most popular foreign games in Japan, the Republic of Korea and Southeast Asia.
“Many of my friends in the U.S. are playing Arena of Valor, which is a mobile game designed by Tencent. Chinese gaming companies have made fresh inroads into overseas markets,” said Thomas Norland, a New York-based graphic designer.
Based on statistics provided by app market data provider App Annie, the Chinese version of Arena of Valor was the world’s top mobile game in terms of active monthly users in August 2017. Such games designed by Chinese companies have triumphed in the global gaming market. In the first half of 2018, more than 200 Chinese mobile games reached a total of one million overseas downloads, bringing in over $1 million in revenue.
"Following the development of the Internet and improvements in hardware performance, China's gaming industry has made tremendous progress in recent years and has become the country with the world's highest gaming revenue, while more and more Chinese companies are now aiming to explore the global market," Huang Yumeng, deputy Secretary General of the Game Publishing Committee of Chinese Audio-Visual and Digital Publishing Association, told Xinhua.