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China to have the most game developers globally within 3 years: Epic Games

China is expected to surpass the United States to become the world's No. 1 region in game development "within the next two or three years," Epic Games said today in Shanghai.
Zhu Shenshen / SHINE

A virtual woman "produced" by Epic's Unreal engine

China is expected to surpass the United States to become the world’s No. 1 region in game development “within the next two or three years," Epic Games said today in Shanghai.

The growing number of Chinese developers came from the booming game market which accounts for 25 percent of the world’s total, Epic’s chief executive Tim Sweeney said.

“China is growing more rapidly than other countries (in terms of developer numbers)," Sweeney told Shanghai Daily in a one-on-one interview. "It’s very likely to be the No. 1 within two or three years."

Globally, Epic now has more than 5 million developers using its Unreal engine for game titles, with the top three regions being the United States, China and South Korea. 

Unreal-featured titles include PUBG Mobile published by Tencent, which is distributed and played globally.

Chinese firms invest more in mobile gaming development and distribute both domestically and overseas. China’s mobile game market size reached 146 billion yuan (US$22.85 billion) in 2017, growth of 56 percent from a year ago. 

More than 88 percent of players are willing to pay, according to researcher CIC.

Epic Games, which has investment from Tencent, develops game engines for mainstream and premium games on computers and consoles. Now it also offers more support for mobile game developers, especially those from China.

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu are major regions for gaming, according to Epic.

New technologies including deep learning (AI), motion capture and facial recognition will soon be used in games, such as adopting personalized images in-game using facial and motion capture technologies.

The game engine’s real-time rendering technology will also be used in other industries including architecture, film production and automotive. Epic and partners showcased demos during the Unreal Open Day held Wednesday in Shanghai.

The boundary of industries has started to disappear to create more “convergence” applications with a “multi-billion-dollar” market size, Sweeney said.

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