2020 CCG Expo takes place in Shanghai
By Lin Nan

The 2020 China International Cartoon and Game Expo, or CCG Expo, is taking place in Shanghai from July 16th to 20th. The annual event is a carnival for gamers, cosplayers, and animation fans, showcasing the latest cartoons, games, and related merchandise.

Highlights of the 2020 CCG Expo

This is the first large-scale exhibition being held in Shanghai since the pandemic started. It's sending out signs of recovery to the city's cultural industry. 

Although the expo has been downsized and there are less visitors than previous events, this year's expo has still attracted over 250 Chinese and foreign industry players (IP) — such as Tencent Video, Oriental Pearl, Bandai, and HOT TOYS. 

A special exhibition called "combating the pandemic" was set up with various cartoon works showcasing how China and the Chinese people have united and fought against the pandemic.  

Overseas exhibitors, such as Shouya and HOT TOYS, have brought popular merchandise. For some of them, this is their debut on the Chinese mainland or worldwide.  

Chinese animation IPs collaborate with traditional domestic brands 

After the success of Chinese animations in recent years — such as Ne Zha and Luo Xiaohei – issues surrounding the development of premium cartoons and animation intellectual property have arisen. 

A design competition called Shanghai Gift has been organized at this year's CCG Expo to show merchandise created by Chinese animation IPs and traditional domestic brands. One of the products being shown is a series of pencil sharpeners, made by AOTU World and Chung Hwa Pencil. AOTU World is one of the most popular animation series among teenagers in China.

A design competition called Shanghai Gift has been organized at this year's CCG to showcase merchandise jointly created by Chinese animation IPs and traditional domestic brands. /CGTN

A design competition called Shanghai Gift has been organized at this year's CCG to showcase merchandise jointly created by Chinese animation IPs and traditional domestic brands. /CGTN

"In China, the business environment for animation is different from abroad. People don't have the habit of paying to watch shows on platforms. So we have to develop IP-related products to make a profit and develop our company sustainably," Qu Xiaodan, the founder of 7 DOC and the producer of AOTU World, said. 

Chung Hwa Pencil – produced by China First Pencil Company – is a household brand in China, dating back to the 1930s. Although it's an old company, it's targeting a young market – students. Working with AOTU World has helped the brand attract young customers.  

"It is vital for us to make the brand younger and desirable, and win the hearts of Generation Z. Our experience in manufacturing and supply chain will bring high-quality products to the market. And I am very optimistic that through the cooperation with AOTU World, our products can reach more people," said Zhang Bingyang, General Manager of China First Pencil. 

Experts say creating such platforms for cooperation at the expo shows collaborating with traditional domestic brands is a way for Chinese animation IPs to create more products and increase their commercial value. It will take them from a niche market, to a bigger audience and wider demographic.  

"The sales and market size of traditional domestic brands are always much bigger than that of cartoon merchandise. Such collaborations will help both sides expand the untouched market and increase brand awareness and sales. This trend of the animation industry is at an early stage. It has huge potential, and it is accelerating," Kerry Zhu, Shanghai Jiazuo Design, said. 

Experts say such cooperation will also help China improve its manufacturing and design, and boost consumption.  

Pandemic impact on gaming and cartoon industries

As most people in China were under lockdown or had to stay home earlier this year, the country's gaming industry has seen a phenomenal hike in active players and revenue. Traffic was so heavy that many servers malfunctioned or experienced delays.  

According to a market report, the mobile game market revenue between January and March this year exceeded 50 billion yuan — about seven billion U.S. dollars, increasing over 40 percent from 2019.  

However, it's a different story for the animation industry. Cinemas have been closed nationwide since Chinese New Year in late January, and some popular cartoon movies have had to postpone their release dates. Also, cartoon theme parks have been closed, causing heavy losses. 

On the other hand, people indoors needed more entertainment, and many animation companies saw that as an opportunity to attract viewers online. 

The opening of the expo shows the recovery of the cultural market. This is the first in a number of events coming up. Chinajoy and Shanghai Book exhibition will take place in the coming weeks, as people get their businesses and lives back on track.