Market researcher Niko Partners studied the consequences of the pandemic in China within the first quarter, and it discovered each destructive and optimistic results on the world’s largest gaming market.

The report said that the outbreak of COVID-19 hit China the toughest within the first quarter, with greater than 84,000 circumstances and 4,500 deaths. Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, was beneath quarantine for 77 days and most of China was in lockdown for 2 months that included the usually busy Lunar New Year. Niko Partners President Lisa Cosmas Hanson moderated a session on this subject at our GamesBeat Summit 2020 occasion.

Niko Partners estimates that income for video games on all platforms was roughly 30% larger in Q1 2020 than Q1 2019. But we noticed loads of destructive results as properly, primarily based on an April survey of 1,057 Chinese players.

Mobile Gaming

Niko Partners: How the pandemic affected games in China

Above: Sensor Tower’s knowledge for iOS income in Q1 in China.

Image Credit: Sensor Tower


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Home-based cell gaming elevated, with a document for in-app purchases (IAP), a pointy enhance in cell recreation downloads, and a far larger worth for the variety of instances per thirty days a gamer would revisit a recreation.

An instance of that is that some informal video games that will sometimes have 5 visits per gamer per thirty days had extra like 15-20 visits. Gamers grew to become extra discerning about their spending.

97.2% of the survey respondents reported spending extra hours on cell video games than previous to the pandemic. 88.8% of respondents stated that they caught to taking part in legacy titles or video games that that they had performed earlier than, choosing familiarity.

81.6% reported spending extra money on gaming. Gamers spent extra on weekends as a result of builders had been pushing promos and gross sales then. Sensor Tower knowledge reveals common weekly downloads of iOS video games throughout Lunar New Year had been 153% larger than in December 2019, and March 2020 nonetheless 67% larger than in December.


Ad views had been down, advert income was down, and fewer advert areas had been crammed as a result of advertisers had been both out of enterprise, closed, or spending much less. Word of mouth created a gravitational pull to extra well-liked video games as social conduct inspired players to play what their pals had been taking part in. This might have been detrimental to smaller titles.

Niko believes that almost all informal recreation builders will look to hybrid monetization choices to offset a few of this impression. While we count on income from ad-supported video games to be down this 12 months, Niko famous that the rise from IAP spending will greater than offset any impression.

PC gaming and web cafes

Niko Partners: How the pandemic affected games in China

Above: Lisa Hanson hosts the “Games in China: Demand Doesn’t Cease” panel on the GamesBeat Summit 2020 with Bill Wang of Skystone Games; Amy Huang of Mattel163; Cynthia Du of Cocos; Jeff Lyndon of iDreamSky.

Image Credit: GamesBeat


94.6% of respondents declare to have spent extra time on PC video games throughout the quarantine than earlier than. 61.5% of respondents stated that they returned to a recreation that that they had dropped beforehand.

76.3% of PC players surveyed stated that they spent extra on PC video games throughout the lockdown. In-game Lunar New Year occasions and promotions had been key drivers of engagement and spend throughout prime PC video games, with publishers extending these occasions because the lockdown dragged on. PC recreation publishers additionally supplied free content material in-game, opened new servers, and ran in-game charity occasions.

Steam hit an all-time peak concurrent person document of 18.Eight million (globally) on February 2, the ultimate day earlier than the supposed finish of the vacation interval throughout many of the nation. The larger utilization in China is a probable contributor to the PCU degree. On January 26th, the day after the precise Lunar New Year celebration, Steam had 18.Four million PCU, which was the very best of the month.

Innovation occurred by Tencent licensed icafes launching a digital cloud icafe service, no less than in Shenzhen, in keeping with the proprietor of 20 such cafes.


Internet cafes had been shut (all 133,000 within the nation), eliminating the gameplay from there by the 115 million players who sometimes frequent them. 57% of respondents that use icafes stated that they don’t intend to return as soon as they’ve reopened.


Niko Partners: How the pandemic affected games in China

Above: League of Legends

Image Credit: Riot Games


Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and different municipal governments partnered with esports operators to assist help the rising trade by lessening purple tape and enabling on-line competitions.

61.7% of respondents stated that they spent extra time watching esports throughout the COVID-19 outbreak than prior.


Tournaments migrated on-line, or had been canceled or postponed no less than till the top of April 2020. Concern arose about dishonest that would happen in on-line play. The distant nature of the web format additionally brings its personal extra challenges when it comes to bandwidth and latency, particularly for gamers in several places.

It took Tencent round one month to go from delaying offline esports occasions to beginning on-line format esports. Tencent rebroadcast basic esports matches or scrims matches throughout the transition. The League of Legends Pro League restarted with a web-based format on March 9, the King Pro League (Honor of Kings) restarted on March 18 and the Peacekeeper Elite League restarted on March 19.

Game livestreaming

Niko Partners displays the biggest three platforms in China: Douyu, Huya and Bilibili. In March, the information confirmed that streaming video site visitors is powerful.


65.5% of respondents stated that they spent extra time watching online game livestreams because the COVID-19 outbreak with 39.7% saying that they streamed themselves for the primary time. One development we seen is how non-gaming celebrities have joined recreation livestreaming platforms to broadcast themselves to followers. It is a method that gaming has been in a position to bridge the hole between different leisure industries the place manufacturing has stopped.


Only 27.1% of respondents stated that they acquired extra ideas/presents than previous to the outbreak.

Console gaming and manufacturing

Niko Partners: How the pandemic affected games in China

Above: Microsoft launched the Xbox One in China in 2014.

Image Credit: Microsoft


As with cell gaming, console gaming has seen a surge with 95% of console players surveyed stating that they spent extra time taking part in console video games because the COVID-19 outbreak. Grey market titles reminiscent of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Ring Fit Adventure (already in brief provide previous to COVID-19 then offered out on-line and tripled in value on had been highly regarded, in reality inflicting an enormous increase in Nintendo Switch gross sales.


In 2019, almost 90% of online game consoles imported into the US had been manufactured in China. Little to no manufacturing occurred in February with manufacturing capability ramping up once more via March and April. This primarily impacted Nintendo who noticed unprecedented demand for his or her Switch console. Niko expects provides of the Switch to recuperate by the top of Q2 2020.

Next-generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft are additionally scheduled to launch by the top of this 12 months. Component shortage, logistics points, and software program delays now pose an even bigger risk to a restricted launch or perhaps a delayed launch. Component shortage and logistics points will enhance the construct value of next-generation consoles, while logistics points might result in shortages at launch, even with air shipments. Software delays may additionally make the launch line up much less enticing to potential consumers.

These elements, together with a recession, may decrease the inducement for shoppers to buy or improve to a next-gen console this 12 months.