Last week, the Global Mobile Games Congress was held in Beijing, China. The event is China’s largest mobile game conference and has attracted companies like Google, Ubisoft, Super Evil Megacorp and many more. We spoke to Global Mobile Game Congress‘ Maxim de Wit, VP of International about how the event started and how they have, in a few short years, become a regular calendar event for luminaries in the industry.
Can you tell us how the Global Mobile Games Congress started?
The Global Mobile Game Congress started in 2012, when our founder David Song established the conference’s parent organization, the Global Mobile Game Confederation (GMGC). He founded GMGC as a independent third-party organization in order to provide an international platform and support for the mobile gaming ecosystem – intended not only for developers and publishers, but also for operators, advertising networks, payment solution providers, and investors. To help achieve our goals of facilitating growth and collaboration in the industry, we hold the Global Mobile Game Congress in Beijing, our Mobile Game Developers Conference in Chengdu, and the Mobile Game Asia conference series throughout Southeast Asia.
It’s been 3 years now, and the event seems to have grown in tandem with the overall mobile game market. What trends in particular are you seeing this year?
Looking forward, we will continue to see a lot of potential in the Chinese mobile game market. In the mobile games industry report we recently released with Newzoo, the prediction is that China will surpass the U.S. by 2016 as the world’s #1 mobile games market in terms of revenue. The sheer size of its population means we will see another 200 million first-time smartphone users in next 3 years. In terms of trends we see in China this year, cardgames and RPG games will continue to be very popular, with cardgames garnering the most number of users. This market is very unique in that card games do so well on mobile.
Overall global trends: gaming revenues via tablet devices are now growing more than revenues via smartphones, despite the lower unit sales for tablets, and this revenue growth is solidifying tablets as a key device in mobile gaming. eSports -or spectator sports- will come more and more to mobile, as well as more mobile games will be incorporated into western messaging apps, just as they already are in Asian messaging apps like China’s Wechat and S. Korea’s Kakao talk.
What role do you see the Global Mobile Game Congress event playing in the future?
We will continue to focus on the same objectives that we set when we first organized the congress: to facilitate growth, collaboration and development in the mobile games eco-system. This is the fourth year we have held the Beijing congress and we are starting to see more and more notable international attendees and companies putting this on their annual calendar. This year we’ve had added more attendees and keynotes from the MENA and LATAM markets, so in the next few years we see the event will continuing to grow bigger and becoming an even more global B2B mobile game event.
As Chinese companies go global and internationals start to enter the huge market in China, we see also see organization and our conferences becoming a platform where we are able to connect the global industry leaders.
Additionally, we aim to be at the forefront of industry learning. We don’t just want to be an event where industry professionals go to network, but our goal is to also be a platform where thought leaders are able to share and discuss the future of gaming, and find opportunities for collaboration.
China has cemented itself as a mobile games powerhouse, with companies like Kabam looking to tap into the game market there. How do you see this evolving?
I think we can look at it from two perspectives. From the consumer perspective and from the perspective of game companies.
On the consumer side, we see Chinese consumers becoming increasingly selective and sophisticated in the games that they play. The industry is evolving into one whereby simply taking a Western title and cloning it will simply not work. Chinese are demanding more original gameplay and innovation. The glut of games has also given consumers lots of choice. So competition for users will be tough.
From the developers perspective this will bring good news and bad news. The bad news is that smaller developers who lack the resources or talent to compete will simply not be able to survive. Many industry professionals in China anticipate that in the next few years we will see a drop in the number of mobile game developers. As the weaker players die off.
On the other hand, good developers will find that they have a large market to tap and that they will be able to make good profit. The mobile games market in China is expected to surpass the US, this year and it is likely that we will still see strong growth within China. Good developers will be able to expand and thrive.
Finally, Chinese developers who have established themselves here will increasingly look to expand overseas, maybe not into Western markets as of now, but in the last few years, many Chinese companies have had an active presence in SEA.