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Published: August 18, 2021

Written by: Stoyan Todorov

  • Console gaming used to be banned in China between 2000 and 2014
  • Now that the ban is gone, the market has been budding
  • Big Chinese developers are starting to see the benefits of developing multi-platform titles

The Chinese console market is steadily developing, following the end of a 14-year console ban.

Consoles Are Back in China

Despite console gaming being a beloved hobby to people all over the globe, the official distributor of console devices in China was banned for about 14 years. Although one keen enough could find an imported console on the grey market, it was an expensive delight. Once the ban was lifted in 2014, console gaming started quickly picking up pace. 

According to Niko Partners data, consoles amounted to $1,84 billion of the Chinese video game software and hardware revenues for the last year. In an interview with CNBC, Niko Partners’ senior analyst Daniel Ahmad spoke about console gaming in China. He said that demand for consoles had been steadily growing.

However, console sales are still but a stub compared with how big the revenues of Chinese PC and mobile gaming currently are – $14 billion and $30 billion respectively for 2020. Therefore the Chinese console gaming still has a lot of growing to do. It barely makes up a few percent of the total gaming revenues, compared to the fact that currently, console gaming amounts to almost a third of the global video game revenues. 

Now that the environment is favorable, China’s top gaming developers and tech brands have been having an increased interest in entering the console world – a whole new market waiting to be explored. 

Pioneering a Fresh Market

Some studios have already started pioneering games that are supported by consoles – backed by Tencent, and Studio Surgical Scalpels is currently developing a sci-fi shooter by the name Boundary that will be released for both PC and PlayStation 4-5. The game aims to become a global title and to appeal to various audiences. 

The good news for Chinese console gaming is that Boundary is not alone, with studio Game Science developing a promising folklore-inspired action title called Black Myth: Wu Kong. Black Myth is expected to release for PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xboxes X, S and One.

The giant Tencent is also looking for a potential opportunity to tap into the barely explored Chinese console market, especially after the rival company NetEase released Naraka: Bladepoint – a battle royale title, already available for PC with a PS5 release in the works.

NetEase’s vice president Hu Zhipeng spoke with CNBC about the attractiveness of the console market. He is well aware of the fact that consoles are responsible for a third of the video game market and is looking to get the best out of that fact.

The game developing company boasts a pretty clear modern vision of gaming and has overseas studios in Japan and Canada. 

Statistics have shown that half of the investments in gaming companies prefer ones that have experience with working on both PC and console games. Because of that, Tencent will be following the example of its rival NetEase and will be taking console gaming into consideration. One of the developers owned by the tech giant, TiMi Studio, will be working on making PC and console games from its offices in Montreal and Seattle. 

With the console ban out of the way, console gaming in China will be becoming more and more developed. Big companies realize that and are working towards porting their games for more than one platform. 

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