China will have around 354 million PC online gamers in 2023, surpassing the population of the United States, according a report released by game research company Niko Partners.
In 2018, China had around 312 million PC online gamers, a quarter of whom spend money in games, according to the report. Their in-game purchases drove total domestic PC online game revenue for 2018 to $15.21 billion, more than half of the global total in this segment. In 2019, revenue from PC online games is projected to reach $16 billion in China.
Mobile game users and revenue already exceed those of PC online games, and its growth will outpace PC in the next five years, the report says. The number of mobile gamers in China is forecasted to reach 728 million in 2023, accounting for approximately half of the country’s population. This is largely due to the fact that mobile game market penetration is approaching saturation: 95% of gamers in China play mobile games.
Mobile games also enjoy a higher percentage of paying users in China at around 40% in 2018. While domestic mobile game revenue at around $15.63 billion wasn’t much higher than that of PC online games in 2018, it is expected to increase by 63% over the next five years and reach $25.5 billion by 2023.
Within the mobile games segment, e-sports will grow the fastest. Mobile e-sports game revenue is projected to more than double by 2023 to $11.5 billion and account for 45% of the entire mobile games market.
Due to changes to the game approval process in China, 2019 could see the number of approved titles drop from the more than 8,000 in 2018 to around 5,000, Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at Niko Partners, told TechNode in April. However, the affected titles are generally low-quality copycat games that won’t really affect the market’s total revenue, he added.