Revenue of the Chinese gaming industry decreased slightly in the first six months of the year but it's expected to rebound strongly in the second half, due to eSports and overseas market opportunities, officials told a ChinaJoy forum on Thursday.
ChinaJoy, or the China Digital Entertainment Expo & Conference, will officially open in Shanghai on Friday. Government regulators, senior business executives and researchers gathered in the city to attend the ChinaJoy main forum that opened on Thursday.
In the first half, Chinese gaming industry revenue came in at 144.3 billion yuan (US$20.0 billion), down 2.39 percent from a year ago. The Chinese gamer user base hit a record high of 668 million, meaning one in two people are players nationwide, according to the China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association (CADPA).
The association published the half-year report at the ChinaJoy forum, which is regarded as the most authoritative data report of the gaming industry in China.
The market "is turning warm" with recovery signals as the revenue in the second quarter grew 22 percent quarter on quarter, Zhang Yijun, vice director general of the association, said, adding that the whole market will grow in the second half.
In Shanghai, the gaming industry is showing a return to an upward trend, especially in the mobile game sector. One out of every four mobile games, which generate a monthly income of over 10 million yuan, comes from Shanghai, Wang Yayuan, vice director of the Shanghai Publicity Department, told the forum.
In the first six months, China's PC-based games generated a revenue of 32.9 billion yuan with a 7.2 percent growth. The gain came from eSports and dual distribution on both mobile and PC platforms, according to the report.
Seven eSports events will make their debuts at the upcoming Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou as medal events, covering shooting and strategy games.
The Hangzhou Asiad will become a "keyword" and a strong catalyst for eSports development in China, according to Xiao Hong, chief executive of Perfect World.
The Shenzhen-listed company operates DOTA 2 eSports game on Chinese mainland, which will be one of seven official eSports events in Hangzhou.
Driven by artificial intelligence, eSports training, content creation, production and experience scenarios will be continuously optimized and upgraded. For example, Perfect World has developed a program to offer virtual reality, or VR, gaming stage for audiences, which will be available at its ChinaJoy booth, Xiao revealed.
According to the report, Chinese game firms generated US$8.21 billion in overseas markets in the first half, an 8.72 percent decline from a year ago. The United States, Japan and South Korea were top regional markets while the Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia were the fastest growing markets.
Despite facing challenges, Chinese firms are speeding up expansion in overseas markets, with an improved environment, diversified channels and booming AI technologies.
On Thursday, three Chinese games, two from Shanghai and one from Chongqing, were chosen to be included in Sony PlayStation's third China Hero Project. It supports domestic game firms to expand globally on its PlayStation platform.
Shanghai will continue to optimize its business environment, improve service efficiency and protect intellectual property rights to attract and gather more famous domestic and foreign enterprises and talent to develop in the city, said Wang.