Console games market in China

How big is the Console Games Market in China? [Insights & Trends]

Last Updated on July 4, 2024

Around 15% of the 685 million Chinese gamers use console hardware to play their favorite game titles. While not as prevalent as mobile and PC games, the local demand for this gaming format is an untapped, less saturated market foreign businesses may explore.

In this post, we’ll explore the popularity of console games among Chinese players, discuss the key market players, and give tips on a successful game launch.


Is console gaming popular in China?

The console games market in Mainland China is divided into legal and grey market sales. It’s primarily because of its 15-year-long ban in the country, which was lifted in 2015.

Despite the long detour, the market managed to garner approximately 18.1 million console gamers locally. The popularity of these games also led to impressive sales numbers, where console hardware revenue reached $1.1 billion (mixed legal and grey market sales) in 2023.

Meanwhile, the console software industry gained $1.27 billion in revenue for the same year, combining overall sales from the legal and grey markets. Thanks to its comprehensive market model, experts predict its market size to reach around $2.48 billion in 2027.

Although the industry experienced a supply issue between 2021 and 2022, the release of new console video games in China indicates that the market will continue to thrive in the upcoming years.


How big is the Console Games Market in China


3 Most Popular Game Consoles in China

1.   Nintendo Switch

Nintendo is one of the many globally renowned Japanese companies that have long recognized the strong gamer demand from mainland China. This is the very reason why this tech giant immediately partnered with Tencent as soon as Switch hit the local market in 2019.

A partnership with one of the top game publishers in Mainland China gives Nintendo Switch an advantage over its competitors due to the company’s vast local distribution network.


Nintendo Switch’s Localized Website Homepage

Nintendo Switch’s Localized Website Homepage


Currently, this company from Japan accounts for 38% of revenue generated from the console video game market. In 2020, Nintendo Switch outsold Sony PlayStation 4’s lifetime sales in the Chinese market by selling over 1.3M units.

It’s nearly impossible to track the console’s overall sales due to the prevalence of the grey market in China’s console market. However, in the past year, the market size of these unofficial revenues dropped from $445 million to $161 million.

With new games from Nintendo approved by the Chinese government this year, it only means that the company’s legal sales will continue to grow.


2.   Microsoft Xbox Series

Like the Nintendo Switch, the Microsoft Xbox Series has also experienced success in the local gaming market. It’s the second-leading console software and hardware provider in Mainland China, with a market share of 33%.

Historically, the biggest revenue Chinese gamers gave Microsoft was during the release of Xbox One. When it was launched locally, the company sold approximately 1.2 million consoles.


Xbox China’s Localized Website Homepage

Xbox China’s Localized Website Homepage


Although Microsoft Xbox’s legal market size slightly dropped from 2018 to 2023, the company maintained a solid standing with $69 million.

In an effort to capture the massive demand within the local gaming market, Microsoft Xbox partnered with NetEase and Blizzard to relaunch locally popular gaming titles into consoles. The list includes World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and other related games from the Starcraft universe.


3.   Sony PlayStation

Most popular PC and mobile games in China are often re-released on PlayStation console devices. In fact, top Chinese games like Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail are compatible with PS5.

PlayStation acquired over 24% of the market segment by bringing popular PC games to consoles. The continued patronage of local gamers for its PS5 release in 2021 allowed the brand to accumulate lifetime sales of 50 million units.


Sony PlayStation’s Localized Website Homepage

Sony PlayStation’s Localized Website Homepage


With the heightened demand for its hardware devices, Sony also expects a consistent increase in PlayStation’s software and services revenue in the following years.

Sony PlayStation is also part of the recurring China Hero Project. It’s a venture that gives a necessary push to the Chinese game development industry. This program includes support in terms of consulting, funding, and publishing games in the local and international gaming markets.


Consumer Profile of Console Gamers in China

China deals with a large number of gamers who are inclined to play on varying devices or formats. If you’re targeting console users, here are the key takeaways you can take note of when it comes to their consumer profiles:


  • Buyers of console hardware and software often come from high-income Chinese households.
  • Around 40% of people playing console games are early technology adopters.
  • Console gamers tend to absorb in-game advertisements better than players of other formats.
  • Console users are more likely to spend on game-related services than regular gamers.


Consumer Profile of Console Gamers in China


Tips on Launching Console Software and Hardware in China

  • Stay updated with new regulations on the local gaming market

Looking at the companies we mentioned above, it’s easy to get the impression that China’s gaming industry is an easy market to conquer. However, the reality is the Chinese government highly regulates the landscape.

Compared to other territories, China imposes strict gaming laws, from regulating game-related content and advertisements to limiting gaming time for minors.

Regulatory bodies like the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) regularly update policies directly impacting game approval processes and market entry.

Companies must navigate these regulations by ensuring their games and hardware meet local standards, which often means modifying content to align with cultural and political guidelines.


National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) Official Website

National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) Official Website


  • Leverage social media and live-streaming channels

In China, social media and live-streaming platforms are vital for marketing and consumer engagement. Platforms like WeChat, Weibo, Douyin (TikTok), and Bilibili are integral to reaching and interacting with Chinese gamers.

Take League of Legends as an example. Despite its global popularity, the game still chose to create an online presence on Bilibili. Today, this social media channel connects the brand to 2.9 million fans.


League of Legends Official Bilibili Profile

Official Bilibili Profile of League of Legends


Live streaming, in particular, has become a powerful tool for product launches and promotions. Collaborating with popular live-streamers can create buzz and drive immediate engagement.

Through these platforms, you can provide live demonstrations, host Q&A sessions, and offer firsthand reviews, and Chinese consumers highly trust them.


  • Work with local KOLs who are popular among console gamers

Influencers play a crucial role in the Chinese digital marketing landscape. They have built substantial followings and possess significant sway over a viewer’s purchasing decisions.

Always consider your target audience when looking for an influencer to work with. Instead of conducting a quantitative analysis of the chosen KOL’s followers, it’s better to look closely at the quality of the audiences they attract.


KOL live streaming on Bilibili

KOL live streaming on Bilibili for our client’s game Riftstorm


Collaborate with influencers who are followed by other gamers for the quality of gaming content they release, not for different reasons. Remember, they’ll be the face of your product during the KOL campaign, so it’s a no-brainer that their reputation can affect your brand as well.


What are the Challenges of the Console Games Sector in China?

The console gaming sector faces stiff competition from mobile and PC gaming, which dominate the Chinese market. Mobile gaming, in particular, continues to thrive due to its accessibility and convenience.

The dominance of mobile and PC gaming platforms means that console games must offer unique and compelling experiences to attract players​.


Understanding gaming industry in China


In addition, the presence of a grey market for consoles and games continues to be a problem in China. The limited availability of console games and hardware in the country makes gamers turn to unofficial sources.

Despite these challenges, it’s worth noting that China’s game console market has been showing consistent growth over the years. With the local government aware of this segment’s potential, it’s likely that more business opportunities will arise from it in the years to come.


Quick Q&A

Are game consoles allowed in China?

Yes, game consoles are allowed in China. The ban on foreign console providers was lifted in 2015 to bring more global titles to the local gaming community. This regulation change eventually led to Nintendo, PlayStation, and Xbox leading the market.


Ready to Dominate the Console Games Market in China? Get In Touch With Us Today!

For global companies and developers, the console games market in China opens an opportunity to tap into the country’s massive and thriving online gaming population. The domination of foreign console hardware and software within the country clearly indicates a demand worth exploring in this business landscape.


You may also read:

Gaming Market China


At Sekkei Digital Group, we have a deep understanding of how the Chinese gaming market works. Our team possesses extensive industry experience and expertise to take your brand to the next level using various digital marketing solutions.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


Whether you intend to work with gaming KOL or want to establish a social media presence for your brand, we have all the digital solutions you need. Contact us today to learn more!


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