China’s mobile gaming revenue in 2021 suffers a steep decline amidst government playtime restrictions

A sharp reduction from last year's 20.7 percent growth

The significantly slower growth in mobile gaming revenue comes after Chinese regulators moved to ban teenagers under 18 from playing video games for more than three hours a week. In August, which came with a licensing freeze for new video games in the country around the same time. Beijing signaled it wants to prevent gaming addiction and promote positive content among the nation’s youth. According to South China Morning Post’s findings, the mobile gaming market of China had its slowest revenue growth in three years in 2021 amid Beijing’s crackdown on the industry while the number of players stagnated, according to an industry report released on Thursday.

The GPC report has some alarming revelations

According to the report released by the Game Publishing Committee (GPC) of the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association, China’s state-backed gaming industry association states that the industry’s gross sales revenue grew 6.4 percent in 2021 from a year ago which is a sharp reduction from last year’s 20.7 percent growth.

The number of gamers in China has also plateaued, with the number of gamers rising by just 0.22 percent to 66.6 million gamers this year which is very low compared to the growth of 3.7 percent in 2020, according to the report. The GPC report was released at the annual China Game Industry Annual Conference, attended by regulators and company representatives.

Chinese game companies restrict playtime

The Chinese gaming industry is a victim of its own rigid preset guidelines

Yang Fang, deputy director of the publishing bureau under the Central Propaganda Department, the agency in charge of granting licenses, said that it is working to purge non-licensed games and eradicate practices where game publishers change a game’s content after obtaining a license from the authority.

Yang further said that the government wants to prevent “the disorderly expansion and the barbaric growth of capital”, in a warning shot against rampant merger and acquisition activity in the sector. She also added that China will launch a campaign to boost “positive energy” in games next year to encourage the growth of local games with “good themes, superior ideas, and good production quality”.

In recent years, Beijing has made it very clear that video games would need to reflect Chinese values. In September, regulators convened a meeting with many game companies in the country, reminding them that video games are no longer apolitical “pure entertainment” but a new form of art that must highlight “a correct set of values” and accurate understanding of China’s history and culture.

What are your thoughts on the recent decline in mobile gaming revenue in China in 2021? Do you think the situation will change soon? Let us know in the comments section below!

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