The Game Working Committee of the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association released its 2021 China Game Industry Report on Thursday. The report shows that in 2021, the actual sales revenue of China’s game market was 296.513 billion yuan ($47 billion), up 6.4% year-on-year.
Although the actual sales revenue has kept growing, the growth rate is nearly 15% lower than that of last year. One main reason for the divergence includes the fact that people grew tired of gaming even while they had to stay at home during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Other reasons include a drop in popular games and the general increase of costs companies paid for R&D, operation and distribution.
According to the report, in 2021, the actual sales revenue of mobile game market was 225.538 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 7.57%. Mobile games are still the main driver of China’s game market, accounting for 76.06% of the total revenue.
In 2021, the growth in the number of game users in China remained steady, reaching 666 million, up 0.22% year-on-year. Although the number of users in the second half of the year showed a downward trend compared with that of last year, it was mainly due to the implementation of the new game anti-addiction regulations.
In 2021, the actual sales revenue of Chinese-developed games in overseas markets reached $18.013 billion, up 16.59% year-on-year. The growth rate dropped by about 17% year-on-year, mainly due to the fading stimulating effect of more stay-at-home orders under the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
In 2021, in terms of the income distribution of key overseas markets for Chinese-developed mobile games, the income from the US market accounted for 32.58%, ranking first. Income from Japan and South Korea accounted for 18.54% and 7.19% respectively.
Although the three regions have contributed 58.31% of the revenue for China’s self-developed mobile games overseas, the last three years have seen the total proportion of the three regions decrease year-by-year, while the proportions of other regions are increasing over that same period of time, indicating that China’s game industry is finding traction in emerging markets.
In 2021, in the overseas revenue distribution of Chinese-developed mobile games, strategy games, role-playing games, and shooting games, accounted for 41.40%, 13.46%, and 12.96% respectively. Elimination and multiplayer online tactical games performed well, with the total revenue accounting for 10.91%, an increase of 5.50% over last year.
In 2021, the actual sales revenue of China’s e-sports game market was 140.181 billion yuan, up 2.65% year-on-year, and the growth rate decreased by about 42% compared with last year.
The main reason is that the offline activities of major e-sports events were affected by the epidemic. Further, the recent policy requirements aimed at addressing gaming addiction among minors have also had an impact on the commercial operation of clubs and competitions.
In 2021, the number of e-sports game users in China reached 489 million, a year-on-year increase of 0.27%. Although the growth rate of e-sports game users slowed down in 2021, a new round of growth may come next year under the background that e-sports projects have now entered the Asian Games in addition to the recent victory by EDG victory at the S11 Global Finals for League of Legends.