The long-awaited Apple event has come to an end, offering the world some pretty cool tech. But while most of the world is still savoring Apple’s latest hardware updates, we can’t overlook the increasingly important roles that Chinese gaming companies are playing in Apple’s—or even the world’s—content ecosystem.

Even a company as great as Apple can’t do it all and can only focus on the things it’s good at. Therefore, it’s a common practice for Apple to invite content partners to demo their products at the mega launch event and share their experiences about how Apple’s latest software and hardware updates can enable greater user experiences.

At today’s release, two gaming companies were honored to pitch onstage at Steve Jobs Theater. They are either coming from China or founded by Chinese entrepreneurs. Here’s a quick wrap-up of their demos.

Sky by Thatgamecompany

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Jenova Chen pitching Sky at Apple event (Image credit: Apple)

Thatgamecompany’s newly launched title Sky is a romantic social adventure game, which features its signature artistic designs that could be commonly found in previous works. Light and dark are important themes of the game. Playing as children of the light, the player’s goal is to bring light to where it is needed the most while flying above the clouds to explore the wonders of the mysterious world, introduced Jenova Chen, the company’s CEO. With the aim to be easy for casual players to pick up, the control is simple and intuitive. Social is another important factor in the title, allowing up to eight players from the world to play together.

Thatgamecompany should be a fairly familiar name to hard-core indie game players. The studio is engaged in creating video games that provoke emotional responses from players. Its video games include the award-winning Flash title FlowFlower, and Journey. Originally coming from Shanghai and now working in the US, the company’s co-founder and creative director Jenova Chen tries to make games that tap into feelings that are universal and independent of culture.

The Machines – by Directive Games

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Directive Game CEO Atli Mar pitching The Machines at Apple event (Image credit: Apple)

Shanghai-based VR/AR game developer Directive Games demoed The Machines, one of the world’s first competitive multiplayer games designed to be played entirely in augmented reality, at Apple’s iPhone keynote today. In the game, players can battle their friends in real time, playing the rebels against the dominators. The gamers are able to play in any new angle and to point-and-shoot an iPhone to create the battlefield. Sound added another layer to the immersive experience. As players leaned into the battle, the volume would increase.

With core-team from Ice Land, Directive Games is now headquartered in Shanghai with offices in Reykjavík and Hong Kong. The firm was being recruited in Vive X, HTC VIVE VR accelerator program last year. TechNode got a chance to talk with the team on VR landscape early this year.

Gaming from China

Witnessing Chinese game companies forming a rising force in the world is, by all means, an exciting phenomenon for us who are following local tech scene, but it’s not quite a surprise: the country has already overtaken the US as the gaming capital of the world in terms of market size. The 600 million Chinese gamers have contributed $24.6 billion of the industry’s $101.1 billion global market value in 2016, just ahead of the US’s $24.1 billion, a report from venture capital firm Atomico shows.

Where there’s high demand for gaming content, there will be more quality content providers and a mature ecosystem surrounding the industry. In Directive Game’s case, the fact that an Icelandic team moved all the way around to set up a company in China speaks to the traction that China has gotten for gaming companies, especially in the VR/AR field.

Apart from gaming startups, Tencent has already marked a milestone for China’s gaming developers with its mega-hit Honour of Kings. The title has become the world’s top grossing game earlier this year.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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