MMORPGs have long held the crown as the dominant game genre in China, but that might be starting to change, as a new market report indicates that web games and competitive titles are quickly becoming the region's fastest-growing PC markets.
Analyst firm Niko Partners reports that Chinese players are showing an increased demand for hardcore browser-based web games, similar to those seen from North American studios like Kixeye and Kabam. With this rise in demand, smaller, privately held game companies have gained a larger share of market revenue in China, while publicly traded MMO operators have seen slower growth in relation to the market at large.
Niko Partners explained that PC game revenue in China has grown 37 percent in 2012, while public online game operators have seen their revenues increase by 26 percent. Since the rest of the market is growing faster than the typical Chinese MMO operator, Niko Partners suspects the market is moving away from that historically successful genre.
The only real outlier in Niko Partners' report is the publically traded Tencent, which operates both traditional MMOs and competitive online games like League of Legends (pictured) and CrossFire. Niko Partners said these types of games have helped the company grow so much that it's taken roughly half of the market share for online PC games in Mainland China.
"For several years Niko has cautioned that the repetitive theme of cultural mythical history MMORPGs in China was beginning to bore gamers, and that new types of games would be necessary to revive waning demand for those games," said Niko Partners' Lisa Cosmas Hanson. "Now we can see from the data that it is a demand driven market and gamers, particularly those in their teens and twenties, are eager to try newer themes."
This trend toward competitive and hardcore web games in China is particularly significant for the game industry at large, as China's online game market is quickly becoming one of the largest and most lucrative segments of the entire business.
The firm added that mobile games have somewhat disrupted PC game growth in China, particularly when looking at the casual and social game markets.