Candy Crush rules, driv­ing mas­sive growth

Nearly 540 mil­lion peo­ple es­ti­mated to reg­u­larly play video games in some form

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By CHINA DAILY Wy­att Bush con­trib­uted to this story.

Star­ing silently and en­tirely fo­cused on her game of Candy Crush 20-year-old Lingyi Tong, with a flick of her fin­gers, trig­gers a sym­phony of ex­plo­sions on her iPad screen. De­spite the bravura dis­play, she fails to solve the level’s chal­lenge of match­ing fruit and de­stroy­ing jel­lies with her two fi­nal moves — fall­ing short by only a sin­gle jelly.

“I was so close,” said Tong, groan­ing in ex­as­per­a­tion.

Tong, a stu­dent study­ing French at the Ren­min Uni­ver­sity of China, is not the spit­ting im­age of the stereo­typ­i­cal gamer. But she and her candy strug­gles are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the av­er­age in­di­vid­ual who has been driv­ing the in­dus­try’s mas­sive re­cent growth in China.

Video game sales rev­enues have been boom­ing in China, which ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try re­search firm Daxue Con­sult­ing -- with pro­jected 2016 rev­enues at $27.7 bil­lion -- will be the sin­gle largest gam­ing mar­ket in the world.

Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search firm In­ter­na­tional Data Cor­po­ra­tion, an­nual video game rev­enues surged from nearly $5 bil­lion in 2010 to roughly $21 bil­lion in 2015.

Neo Zheng, a re­search man­ager at IDC, said from 2014 to 2015 Chi­nese gam­ing sales ex­pe­ri­enced 22.1 per­cent growth and there are many rea­sons to ex­pect a sim­i­lar dou­ble-digit in­dus­try growth who reg­u­larly played video games in some form.

For Tong, gam­ing is a daily must. She plays mo­bile games on her phone or iPad any­where from 30 min­utes to an hour each day – usu­ally while re­lax­ing ei­ther on her bed or at her of­fice while tak­ing a break from the stresses of work.

“I like puz­zle games where you use your mind and games where you drive cars since I liked F1 in mid­dle school,” Tong said. “I’m so hooked (on driv­ing and rac­ing games) though, I won’t down­load them, but Candy Crush I like and I am not so ad­dicted.”

As in­comes in China con­tinue to climb for Tong and oth­ers, the video game in­dus­try stands to gain as in­di­vid­u­als have more time to spend on them and other forms of en­ter­tain­ment.

“Peo­ple’s salaries have in­creased a lot and with more money they are spend­ing more on leisure,” Zheng said. “We have found in our re­search that play­ing video games is one of the cheap­est and most re­lax­ing forms of en­ter­tain­ment and leisure among Chi­nese con­sumers.”

Gam­ing’s growth in China has come in many forms, but Zheng noted that Chi­nese gam­ing rev­enues dif­fer sig­nif­i­cantly from Western coun­ter­parts in that a much greater pro­por­tion of games are free, and rely upon in-game pur­chases of vir­tual items for generating sales.

To date, mo­bile “freemium” games, such as Tong’s pre­ferred Candy Crush, have found the most suc­cess in sat­is­fy­ing Chi­nese con­sumers’ tastes. They, and their play­ers on tablets and smart­phones, lead the charge for a roar­ing, unique Chi­nese video game mar­ket.

“Smart­phone users spend 43 per­cent of their over­all time on mo­bile gam­ing with 120 mil­lion Chi­nese mo­bile gamers -- and the pool of play­ers is grow­ing at an alarm­ing rate of 349 per­cent,” An­drew Horn, project man­ager at Daxue Con­sult­ing, said in an email to the China Daily.

Ad­di­tion­ally, ac­cord­ing to re­ports from mar­ket re­search firm iRe­search, China’s mo­bile gam­ing rev­enues more than dou­bled from roughly $4.1 bil­lion to $8.4 bil­lion be­tween the 2014 and 2015 fis­cal years. At the same time, mo­bile gam­ing’s mar­ket share rapidly ex­panded from 22 per­cent to 48.4 per­cent of the over­all on­line gam­ing mar­ket.

The Chi­nese gamers be­hind all this growth tend to be young and are in­creas­ingly women.

Zheng said the bulk of Chi­nese gamers are less than 30 years-old, with 38 per­cent aged be­tween 20 to 29 and 28 per­cent be­tween 10 to 19 year­sold. Mean­while, 68 per­cent of gamers are male and 32 per­cent fe­male, but the num­ber of fe­male gamers has been in­creas­ing faster than their male coun­ter­parts in re­cent years.

Peo­ple’s salaries have in­creased a lot and with more money they are spend­ing more on leisure.” Neo Zheng, a re­search man­ager at IDC


rate for the next few years.

Of China’s ap­prox­i­mately 1.38 bil­lion peo­ple, Zheng said there were about 537 mil­lion

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