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Analyst: Console game makers face an uphill battle in China

In the wake of this year's ChinaJoy expo, a Chinese game market analyst speaks to the challenges console and set-top box game makers face in China, a country dominated by mobile and PC games.
"A lot of consumers in China aren’t used to watching TV anymore, especially younger people. Transferring their consumer behavior from mobile and PC to a TV-based system—that won’t be transformed in a short time."

- Chinese game market analyst Xaiofeng Zeng believes games played on a TV will have a hard time gaining traction in China.

China is, by virtue of its size, one of the biggest video game markets in the world. It has more mobile game players than the U.S. does citizens, and over a hundred million PC game players, but both Sony and Microsoft have seen tepid sales of their latest game consoles in the region.

Market analysis firm Niko Partners believes less than 550,000 of both consoles, combined, will be sold in 2015, but seems bullish about the potential for TV-based games in China to account for $3 billion in revenue by 2019 thanks to the spread of Android set-top boxes and smart TVs.

However, there are some potential stumbling blocks in the way that developers intrigued by the Chinese games market should know about. Chief among them, according to Niko senior analyst (and Shanghai resident) Xaiofeng Zeng, is China's entrenched culture of playing games on PCs and mobile devices -- not televisions.

"If we don't see games that are very attractive [to] consumers, that encourage them to put down the phone and stay in the living room, that's a problem," Zeng told GamesBeat in the wake of this year's big ChinaJoy game industry expo in Shanghai. "Developers will need to create games that pull players to the [set-top] box." 

Even if you do manage to make a game that's well-suited to China's burgeoning TV games market, the vagaries of Chinese government policy may squelch your chances of success. 

"At the end of 2014, the government released a policy indicating that OTT boxes need to work with content providers, which sets limits on the content the box can provide to audiences," said Zeng. "This is a kind of censorship, both of content and of distribution. While that's in effect, this may be a limited space."

For more of his thoughts on the state of China's video game market and how Chinese game companies are looking to expand West, check out the full interview over on GamesBeat.

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