CHINAJOY 2014, Asia’s biggest game fair, closed last week, ending a funfest for blockbuster titles and sexy showgirls. But beyond the glitz, the exhibition provided a backdrop for global Internet giants to connect with game fans and for hardware makers to show off their newest gadgets.
Google, Facebook, Qihoo 360 and Amazon were among the big names there. They were seeking alliances with Chinese game firms for expansion into the domestic market or were priming themselves for the global stage, though foreign firms still have a shaky foothold on the mainland.
On the other hand, Intel, the world’s biggest computer chip maker, was hoping to stir up more global and Chinese PC sales. Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 were stars of the show, unveiling their first game consoles in the domestic market since 2000.
“Games, especially mobile games, have been on a fast track of development, becoming the focus of investment and entrepreneurship,” said Sun Shoushan, deputy director of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.
In the first half of this year, revenue in the domestic game industry totaled 49.6 billion yuan (US$8.03 billion), up 46 percent from the same period last year.
Mobile games accounted for a quarter of the total, jumping 395 percent in a year. Domestic game firms generated combined revenue of US$800 million overseas, chalking up a gain of 67 percent, according to the administration.
The booming game industry has fueled corollary industries, such as Internet marketing, film, telecommunications, computers and IT gadgets, industry officials told a forum of ChinaJoy.
The four-day extravaganza, with more than 500 exhibitors and 1,000 game titles, attracted 250,000 visitors, 21 percent more than last year.
Film, TV and Internet giants
Wang Zhongjun, chairman of film studio Huayi Brothers, was present at ChinaJoy after being a no-show at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June. That choice seemed to signal the huge potential that China’s top movie studio sees in the game market.
“Games and film have DNA for cross-industry integration,” Wang told the ChinaJoy forum, who suggested that theme parks could be built to combine game and movie themes.
It was the first time for Huayi to exhibit at ChinaJoy, through Guangzhou-based Yinhan Games, a mobile game firm invested by Huayi.
Google, with the world’s biggest Android application market, urged Chinese game firms to improve their efficiency as they expand globally.
No more than 3 percent of Android game users are now willing to pay to play, but that proportion is expected to greatly increase through the use of Google’s AdMob advertising platform and the free Google Analytics tool, according to Sergio Salvador, global head of games partnerships with the company, told the ChinaJoy forum.
It was the first time Google had sent speakers for ChinaJoy.
Facebook, though not now accessible in China, also set up presentations for clients and Chinese game firms in a hotel near the exhibition hall to help them expand overseas by using the world’s most popular social platform.
Amazon and Qihoo 360 both set up booths in the show for their channels.
Game rig market
Displaying the world’s fastest gaming Mouse, 700 computers with Intel’s most advanced chips and the latest game consoles, ChinaJoy 2014 was always going to be a magnet for sexy game gadgets.
Tencent, China’s No. 1 game firm and an Internet giant with more than 800 million users, debuted its first hardware as a portable wireless router, featuring game speeding and Internet security functions.
With it, users can turn any web-linked device, such as a laptop or desktop, into an active router sending Wi-Fi signals for their smartphones or iPads.
The computer gaming base has reached more than 1 billion globally, with players growing older and more interested in advanced and professional gadgets, said Logitech, which has sold 1.5 billion mice, keyboards and headshots globally.
It unveiled the ultra-fast gaming mouse G402 during the ChinaJoy, targeting demand from hardcore gamers and e-sports pro players.
Intel showcased 700 computers with its most advanced i5 and i7 chips.
“Game fans are always catalysts for the personal computer market, especially PCs with high-end chips,” said He Gang, Intel China’s marketing director.
He said he expects Chinese PC sales this year to be in line with 2013 levels, after a 9 percent drop last year.
Local start-up firms also displayed their latest innovations during ChinaJoy.
One of them, a device called IMI, allows users to put photos and game images they want on smartphone cases in minutes. It now costs about 50 yuan to customize an iPhone 5 case.