The fragmented app ecosystem in China poses a major challenge for Western gaming developers, but the revenue opportunity is becoming simply too big to ignore. China will be the top market for mobile gaming revenues this year, according to data from NewZoo, just ahead of the US.
- The total global gaming market is expected to reach $US30.1 billion in revenues this year.
- Spending on mobile games in China will reach $US6.5 billion, or one-fifth of total worldwide revenues, up from a projected 17% share last year.
- This will put the country just ahead of the US, which is expected to bring in $US6.0 billion in mobile gaming revenues.
One of the biggest challenges for mobile gaming developers in China is the fragmented app store ecosystem in the country.
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Since Google Play isn’t officially available in China, many developers offer their apps through forked versions of Google’s Android platform. Android app stores accounted for 55% of total mobile gaming revenues in the country, according to NewZoo data. However, these app stores are not monitored by Google and often have different development specs and a low-quality user experience, as well as fragmented audiences. For developers in the west, it’s challenging to develop for so many different and often poorly monitored app stores.
Western developers face the historical challenge of moving against the grain; smartphone trends have mostly originated in Asian markets and then slowly worked their way into popularity in Western markets. It’s both difficult and unusual for Western gaming apps to make significant waves in the Chinese market.
Chinese developers that have had so much success in their home market may actually have an easier time breaking into western segments, compared to the reverse. Chinese mobile gaming publisher NetEase is the fifth highest-grossing app publishing on iOS and Android, according to VentureBeat, and the company is just beginning to expand into Western markets. The company has launched games in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia to begin testing viability.
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