China’s growth as the world’s top game market will continue unabated. Market researcher Niko Partners predicts that China’s gamers will exceed 1 billion people and $42 billion in revenues by 2022.

Niko’s latest PC online and mobile gaming reports show that China will enjoy strong growth in the next five years, with the market accelerating faster than last year’s forecast thanks to higher-than-expected mobile game revenue growth. In particular, midcore titles (hardcore games that players can engage in short time periods) and esports games like Tencent’s Honor of Kings generated those higher revenues.

The number of gamers in China is set to increase from 604 million in 2017 to 768 million in 2022. Total PC online games revenue in 2017 was $15.53 billion, up 1.2 percent from a year earlier. Total PC online games revenue in 2022 is projected to reach $17.44 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.3 percent.

“China is by far the world’s largest games market and the single most important market for both mobile and PC games, and it’s growing faster than expected,” said Lisa Cosmas Hanson, managing partner of Niko Partners, in a statement. “Global game companies, hardware providers, and others must take the time to understand the Chinese market and Chinese [gamers’] motivations, behavior, demands, and economic reality in order to build games and products that will soar to the top of the charts.”


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China’s domestic mobile games revenue was $12.13 billion in 2017, up 47.3 percent from a year earlier. China’s domestic mobile games revenue in 2022 is projected to reach $24.67 billion at a CAGR of 15.3 percent.

The most popular games in China are League of Legends on PC and Honor of Kings on mobile, and the number of female gamers that play and spend in games is increasing, Niko said. The esports segment continues to be one of the strongest drivers of growth, with battle royale the hottest new genre on both PC and mobile platforms. The top 20 Android app stores account for 95 percent of Android game distribution.

Updated 5/7/18 10:32 a.m. Pacific time: Niko corrected its numbers for gamers in 2017 and 2022.

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