As VR, Mobile games and innovation take off in China, the country is poised to be a global leader in the tech community
For a long time, China was seen as a low-cost manufacturing giant, but with a new generation of bold and creative digital natives taking over — along with the rise of home-grown Internet giants such as Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and Xiaomi — the Chinese tech community has risen as one of the premiere tech communities in the world.
China’s transformation into a global innovation leader is underway, particularly in the areas of virtual reality (VR) and gaming.
According to eMarketer, VR revenues in China are expected to top US$135 million by the end of this year – a 370 percent increase from 2015. And as consumer demand for VR equipment and gaming grows (eMarketer estimates 7.3 million VR users in China by 2018), domestic companies have embraced the opportunities to get involved in this category in a variety of innovative ways.
Take Chinese startup ANTVR Technology, for example. ANTVR created the ANTVR kit, a singular open-source, cross-platform VR gaming set that works on many different VR headsets. With this technology, game makers can develop and launch games without worrying about system compatibility, thereby opening up user access to a wider range of games.
On the hardware side, Chinese manufacturer 3DinLife has created a more immersive gaming experience for users with its VR seat controller. Mounted on hydraulic lifts, these egg-shaped lounge chairs gives users that additional ‘motion’ dimension in their gaming, making the experience all the more realistic.
With so many local players innovating in the VR arena, virtual may become a reality in China sooner than we think. Of course, once you have the VR headset, users need something to do with it. Content is a key component of virtual reality adoption, and the gaming community is making great strides in VR gaming content.
China is quickly becoming the world’s largest mobile gaming market. DataEye reported a staggering 250 percent increase in the number of mobile gamers in China in just three years between 2012 and 2015.
The mobile gaming market surpassed that of the United States by US$1 billion in 2015, and is expected to cross US$11 billion in the next four years, according to VentureBeat.
The smartphone has democratized gaming. What was once a niche market that catered to serious gamers now is open to anyone who owns a mobile phone. Tencent, NetEase and Shanda are among the top gaming companies that seized these opportunities. Today they dominate the Chinese mobile gaming scene.
Gamegyro reported, Tencent booked mobile gaming revenues at over US$3.2 billion last year, representing over 40 per cent of the Chinese domestic market. The company recently announced plans to launch more than 30 new mobile games this year, and is expected to capture two-thirds of the domestic mobile gaming market this year.
Within the Chinese mobile gaming scene, mobile eSports games, including competitive games with tournaments or matches, are thriving.
They now represent 24 percent of the top grossing Chinese titles on Android, according to NewZoo. In fact, eSports gaming has been recognized as an official sport in China, with nationwide tournaments under the inaugural Chinese Mobile eSports Game (CMEG) event to be held this year.
Card battle games and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games on mobile are also leading genres in this increasingly popular market.
China is leading in innovation particularly in the VR and mobile gaming industries, but it goes beyond that.
Many Chinese tech companies whose beginnings stemmed from providing an alternative for Chinese consumers looking at international brands have also come into their own. For instance, Xiaomi has evolved over the years from a smartphone company to providing everyday home products like air purifiers and rice cookers, and is now entering the VR and robotics scene.
Today, Chinese tech companies are actively innovating to create solutions that meet the demands of the Chinese consumer market, one that is in many ways different from the Western consumer market.
The fact that they have also gained international regard is testimony of China’s innovative power. It will be fascinating to witness the evolution of this rising power into a global tech powerhouse in the years to come.
Gary Shapiro is the president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, owner and producer of CES Asia. Together with Intex Shanghai, CTA is organizing the second annual CES Asia 2016, a consumer technology tradeshow, taking place May 11-13, in Shanghai, China, at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.
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