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PC and mobile games revenue in China hit $33.1 billion in 2019, and it is expected to grow to $46.7 billion by 2024, according to a new reports on PC and mobile games by market researcher Niko Partners.

The new forecast takes into account the effects of the pandemic. For instance, Niko Partners now expects PC game revenues to fall 5% in 2020 as a result of the difficulties playing at internet cafes in China, but the mobile forecast has been upgraded because of higher demand, said Lisa Cosmas Hanson, in an email to GamesBeat. Cosmas Hanson moderated a panel on the pandemic’s effect on China in a panel at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2020 event.

China had 685 million gamers in 2019, and that is expected to rise to 772 million in 2024. For 2024, about 637 million will be mobile gamers, and it’s worth noting that PC gamers also play mobile games.

Mobile games generated $18.5 billion in revenues in 2019, up 18.2% from the previous year. Niko expects mobile games to grow to $32.0 billion in revenues by 2024. This excludes revenue from mobile game exports, which was $6.4 billion, up 21% from 2018.

Female gamers are rising, making up 42% of total gamers in 2018, 46% in 2019, and forecast to be 50% in 2020, primarily on the mobile platform.

PC gaming fell 4% to $14.6 billion in 2019, and further decline is expected especially due to the impact of COVID-19 on internet cafes, which have been closed in China since the coronavirus hit.

Chinese gamers continue to be motivated by esports, and revenue of games played in esports reached $13.9 billion. That is expected to rise to $23.2 billion in 2024. Total esports games revenue for 2019 was $13.9 billion, 42% of all revenue, projected to grow to $23.2 billion in 2024.

“This turbulent time of the COVID-19 pandemic afforded us the opportunity to observe and analyze human behavior in relation to gaming through the lens of China. These reports analyze market data results, the trends that inform the annual forecast through 2024, and the change in Niko’s previous market model and forecast that is a result of COVID-19, regulations, and other market factors,” said Cosmas Hanson. “I am thankful that, during the pandemic, people of the world can get some joy out of playing video games, safely from home during shelter in place rules, and China’s market has shown this to be true.”

Above: Niko Partners foresees a lot of growth for China’s mobile games.

Image Credit: Niko Partners

Niko Partners will update its estimates for console games in an upcoming report.

“People are playing much more in China during quarantine, but the bump should recede once they resume regular life,” Cosmas Hanson said. “Some classic games resumed during the quarantine will continue to be popular, but internet cafes will not resume to the same capacity as before, and mobile gaming will continue to surge.”

She said that 95% of the people surveyed in Niko’s China COVID-19 impact survey said that they are playing more as a result of the quarantine.

And she said that the PC forecast has been revised downward as a result of COVID-19 and the difficult regulatory policies that have delayed or prevented some hit global titles from being licensed in China.

“We had previously forecast nearly flat growth, mostly because of the pull to mobile gaming, but instead the market fell 4.9% in 2019 and will fall again in 2020 because of the regulations, few new titles, and COVID-19 closing internet cafes,” she said.

The reason for the higher mobile games forecast is stronger demand for mobile games, better mobile infrastructure, and a broader selection of games. And Cosmas Hanson said that esports is a major driver of both PC and mobile games. Offline tournaments will reduce some of the impact on the games revenue post-COVID, but mobile esports have an opportunity for more widespread, mainstream open tournaments, and this could be a boost to mobile games revenue.

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