The Impact of the Rise of Mobile Games on the Creativity and Structure of the Games Industry in China

  • Anthony FungEmail author
Part of the Mobile Communication in Asia: Local Insights, Global Implications book series (MCALIGI)


The rise of mobile games is one of the most influential events in computer gaming in this decade. This rise not only has introduced significant changes to the platform of gaming but also potentially has transformed many important aspects of gaming, including game communities, game culture, game design, market structure, and industry structure. Based on data collected from China and Hong Kong, this study explores the following: (1) how the rise of mobile games has affected industrial structure; and (2) whether these structural changes have affected the level of creativity in game design. Although the rise of mobile games is global in scale, in China, they were popularized in 2012, and this market has grown rapidly since then. Through the analysis of data collected on market revenue and market share, in-depth interviews with key figures from mobile and online games companies, and secondary data including game market reports, this study investigates the transformation of the industrial structure. The results of the analysis showed that since 2013, the highly concentrated industrial structure that was established in the 2000s has been significantly decentered. This finding corroborates the results of current studies on the rise of mobile games, which were based on global data. Through in-depth interviews with game designers and participant observations of game communities, the study determines whether a less concentrated industrial structure would improve creativity and whether this high level of creativity would be sustainable.


Mobile game Game industry Industrial structure Creativity 



This paper was fully supported by a grant from the Research Grant Council of 418 HKSAR [Project no. 4001-SPPR-09].


  1. Analysys. (2015). Prediction on China’s online game market 2012–2015. Retrieved from = 163395
  2. App Annie & IDC. (2015a). Mobile app advertising and monetization trends 2013–2018: Freemium and in-app ads expand their lead. Retrieved from
  3. App Annie & IDC. (2015b). Mobile game spend breaks away from handheld game consoles. Retrieved from
  4. Arrington, M. (2010, January 11). Mochi media acquired by Shanda games for $80 million. Retrieved from
  5. Bartle, R. (1996). Hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades: Players who suit MUDs. Retrieved from
  6. DoNews. (2014, March 31). Avazu 手游海外推广的五个经验与六个有价值的数据. Retrieved from
  7. Feinstein, J. (2009). Creativity and the economic system. In B. Kerr (Ed.), Encyclopedia of giftedness, creativity, and talent (pp. 204–207). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.Google Scholar
  8. Feng, Y. Q., Zhao, M. D., & Guan, X. J. (2015). 2014 中国游戏市场报告产业篇. Retrieved from
  9. GPC. (2015a). 2014 China gaming industry report. Retrieved from
  10. GPC. (2015b). 2014 China gaming overseas market report. Retrieved from
  11. Huxiu. (2012, July 10). 9 家在 iOS 平台上收入最高的中国剬司. Retrieved form
  12. IDCquan. (2013, December 7). Guonei youxi gongsi ruhe jinjun haiwai [How can Chinese game developers enter foreign markets?]. Retrieved from
  13. IGN. (2011, May 31). Perfect world buys cryptic studios. Retrieved form
  14. iResearch. (2015, September 7). China’s mobile gaming market to overtake U.S. market this year. Retrieved from
  15. Jie, X. (2013, September 30). 从 500 家到 5 家手游 CP 该如何应对渠道垄断阴影. Retrieved from
  16. Karvin. (2014, November 5). This new game shows era of heavy mobile games coming in China? Retrieved from
  17. Kshetri, N. (2009). The evolution of the Chinese online game industry. Journal of Technology Management in China, 4(2), 158–179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Marketwatch. (2014, May 12). CMGE: How to survive in the global mobile games market. Retrieved from
  19. Ministry of Business. (2012, February 23). 商务部、中宣部、外交部、财政部、文化部、海关总署、税务总局、广电总局、新闻出版总署、国务院新闻办剬告 2012 年第3号. Retrieved from
  20. Newzoo. (2015a, April 16). The Chinese game market: The year 2014 in review. Retrieved from
  21. Newzoo. (2015b, July 14). Android vs. iOS battle heats up in China, world’s #1 mobile games market. Retrieved from
  22. Newzoo. (2015c, March 10). Introduction to the Chinese game market. Retrieved from
  23. Nomura. (2014). China internet: Invest in traffic shift to mobile. Retrieved from
  24. Omori, M. T., & Felinto, A. S. (2012). Analysis of motivational elements of social games: A puzzle match 3-games study case. International Journal of Computer Games Technology, 2012, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. (2012, February 28). 文化部发布《文化部“十二五”时期文化产业倍增计划》. Retrieved from
  26. PR Newswire. (2014a, May, 14). CMGE: How to survive in the global mobile games market. Retrieved from
  27. PR Newswire. (2014b, July 7). 完美世界剬布近期业务发展. Retrieved from
  28. Sykong. (2014). 观察 | 为什么都在找单机产品? Retrieved from
  29. Sootoo Research. (2015, January 28). 2014 年 Q4 移动游戏市场分析报告. Retrieved from
  30. Takahashi, D. (2011, February 4). China’s Tencent acquires majority stake in online game firm Riot Games for nearly $400 M. Retrieved from m/
  31. Tencent. (2014). 2014 手游玩家行为全面剖析. Retrieved from
  32. Wei, P. S., & Lu, H. P. (2014). Why do people play mobile social games? An examination of network externalities and of uses and gratifications. Internet Research, 24(3), 313–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Youxiweixun. (2015, March 23). Youxi chuhai san da bixiuke [The three lessons for exporting games]. Retrieved from

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Journalism and CommunicationThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.School of Arts and CommunicationBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.School of Journalism and CommunicationJinan UniversityGuangzhouChina

Personalised recommendations