What’s the impact of COVID-19 on mobile gaming in China?

Mobile gaming in China

Mobile gaming in China is important for many developers and publishers. Therefore, we will talk about the impact of COVID-19 on the Chinese market based on Niko Partners‘ latest report. As you already know, the ongoing pandemic started in Wuhan, China. It had a significant impact on the lives of Chinese citizens with more than 84,000 cases. Gaming usage is usually higher than average in the Lunar New Year holiday which is in the first quarter of 2020 but was it any different in 2020? That’s what we will discuss plus the negative and positive impact of COIVD-19 on the Chinese mobile games market.

What’s the impact of the pandemic on mobile gaming in China?

Home-based mobile gaming increased, there was a record high for in-app purchases (IAP), a sharp increase in mobile game downloads, and a far higher value for the number of times per months gamer would revisit a game. However, Ad views and revenue was down. That’s due to advertisers got out of business, closed, or started to spend less. 97.2% of the survey respondents reported spending more hours on mobile games than before the pandemic. 88.8% of respondents said that they stuck to playing legacy titles or games that they had played before, opting for familiarity. Furthermore, SensorTower data shows that average weekly downloads of iOS games during the Lunar New Year holiday were 153% higher.

Mobile gaming in China
Tencent’s Honor of Kings, the most popular game in the region.

Furthermore, There was a gravitational pull to more popular games via word of mouth, as social behavior encouraged gamers to play what their friends were playing. According to Niko Partners, this may have been detrimental to smaller titles. Some casual games that may typically have 5 visits per gamer per month had more like 15-20 visits. Also, the company believes that most casual game developers will look to hybrid monetization options to offset some of this impact.

What about game development and marketing?

Based on the report, there were no positive impacts as expected. In fact, there were many challenges for game developers and anyone in the industry such as maintaining productivity. Domestic development studios were impacted, unless able to shift to work from home. Outsourcing art studios were also impacted by companies unable to deliver projects or losing new projects during the lockdown. Overseas game companies moved some projects or awarded new contracts to studios outside China. This disruption has caused some global AAA titles to see delays.

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