ChinaJoy 2019: Is the Chinese game industry ready to go global?
Updated 22:55, 04-Aug-2019
By Gong Zhe

It's ChinaJoy, the largest gaming festival in the world. 

This year's annual event takes up the entire Shanghai New International Exhibition Center, more than doubling the size of the 2019 Mobile World Congress (MWC) Asia, which was held in the same place.

This is particularly noteworthy because this year's MWC featured one of the most important mobile technology advances in the last decade: 5G.

What's so attractive about this video game event then?

Foreign brands are part of the answer. For the first time, Japanese game legend Nintendo joined the party, introducing it's Switch console to the Chinese mainland with local giant Tencent as a partner.

Another Japanese gaming giant Sony also built a giant stage to show how determined it is to expand its Chinese user base.

U.S. game maker Blizzard is giving out all kinds of free gifts trying to expand fans of its decade-long online game World of Warcraft (WoW).

Hardware makers like Qualcomm and Intel both occupied a large space at the venue to show off their latest gaming tech.

This year's ChinaJoy is more international than ever. But are Chinese gamers and the industry ready for a globalized market?

Gamers still prefer foreign titles

Foreign games are welcome in China. Gamers have played Japanese games since they discovered the Nintendo Family Computer roughly three decades ago. South Korean online games had its prime in the early 2000s when Chinese gamers rushed to internet cafes, before they were almost replaced by U.S. titles like WoW in 2009. Now every hardcore Chinese gamer has a PC gaming platform like Valve's Steam on their computers. 

But things are changing as gamers shift from consoles and PCs to smartphones. Chinese gaming companies are making real money in the mobile world and you can find one or two local games on basically every smartphone being used in the country.

When asked by CGTN Digital on the quality of the local games, most gamers admitted the gap between domestic and foreign titles, while insisting that Chinese video games are getting significantly better that three years before.

According to a market report released at ChinaJoy, locally-developed games made up 80 percent of the Chinese gaming market in the first half of this year, about 92.14 billion yuan. 

Companies are going global

Local companies are also starting to look for a global audience. 

The same report also concluded that sales of Chinese games was 20.2 percent more in the first half of 2019, compared to the same period last year, reaching 5.57 billion U.S. dollars in revenue.

"The growth speed is faster than domestic market," it said.

But the companies are not satisfied. They are aiming at something bigger.

"You need world-class vision to create world-class games," said Dr. Xiao Hong, CEO of Chinese video game company Perfect World.

"We have been competing globally for 11 years and I'm sure it can bring you benefits," he told journalists at a press conference on Thursday.

Smaller companies, or even independent studios, are also trying to go abroad to survive.

"ChinaJoy is a chance for independent video game developers to meet with publishers around the world," Luan Xun, deputy general manager of the event, told CGTN Digital in an exclusive interview.