Candy Crush rules, driving massive growth
Nearly 540 million people estimated to regularly play video games in some form
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