Biz / Tech

Shanghai a magnet for game fans and studios

Zhu Shenshen
The city has established a vibrant mobile game industry ecosystem with exhibitions, high-level eSports matches and a professional industry chain for cross-platform development.
Zhu Shenshen

Editor's note:

High-quality growth, the most-mentioned phrase during the Two Sessions, will keep guiding China's new route of development. As a bellwether city, Shanghai takes a model role in mapping out growth of high quality, and here is what we find in the enchanting game industry!

Shanghai a magnet for game fans and studios
Ti Gong

People visited a Genshin Impact in elaborately dressing up, or cosplaying in Shanghai this month.

It was the most exciting month of the year for Linda and her friends.

They got up at 5:30am, spent several hours on makeup and elaborately dressing up, known as cosplay, to attend a party – the Genshin Impact FES held in Shanghai on August 10.

The young women, visiting Shanghai from Hangzhou, attended the show to celebrate shared love, meet cosplayers and voice actors of game characters, obtained limited-edition merchandise, and attended on-site activities to collect stamps and win free gifts.

Genshin Impact, developed by Shanghai-based game studio miHoYo, is now a blockbuster title, both in domestic and overseas markets.

FES is the biggest offline event of Genshin Impact since the popular action role-playing game debut in 2020.

It was staged at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the city's top exhibition space for events such as the China International Import Expo.

Even after two weeks, Linda can't help holding her breath when talking about the event.

Shanghai supports game firms targeting the global market, and aims to build itself into a global eSports capital. In Shanghai, the gaming industry is showing a return to an upward trend, especially in the mobile game sector.

One out of every four mobile games, which generate a monthly income of more than 10 million yuan (US$1.38 million), comes from Shanghai, said Wang Yayuan, vice director of the Shanghai Publicity Department.

The city is a vibrant industry ecosystem covering fans-fancy game events, high-level eSports matches and clubs, game studios with global influence and a professional industry chain for cross-platform development.

A magnet for game fans

Fans gathered in Shanghai for a carnival summer this year, with highly anticipated events. They included ChinaJoy, Bilibili World show, Genshin Impact FES and several national eSports competitions, all held in July and August.

At ChinaJoy, a summer gaming carnival and festival held annually, fans dressed in Cosplay, danced and socialized, collected free gifts and played demo games yet to be released.

As a first-time ChinaJoy visitor, Nanxia, a grade-12 student from the southwest city of Chongqing, didn't regret taking a more than 20-hour train ride to Shanghai.

He and two friends visited ChinaJoy booths of League of Legends, Genshin Impact and Honkai Impact 3.

Shanghai a magnet for game fans and studios
Dong Jun / SHINE

Players flocked Shanghai to attend the ChinaJoy show.

"It brings a charming atmosphere here, with cosplayers, games and animation products," he told Shanghai Daily.

On the first day of Bilibili World, fans faced heavy rainfall and interrupted air conditioning, but they stayed and chatted with new friends.

Cross-platform development

In China, majority game revenue now comes from mobile games, while development in PC and game consoles is growing in China, with Shanghai a center of market participants.

For example, miHoYo has landed Genshin Impact on multi-platforms such as PC and PlayStation platforms, since it became one of the world's bestselling mobile titles.

Cross-platform development is a trend. When a title is released on a major platform, it can also be released on other platforms to maximize revenue, said third-party game developer Virtuos, which can help firms to synchronize these products across all platforms.

Shanghai a magnet for game fans and studios
Ti Gong

Staff from both China and global regions are working in Virtuos' Shanghai studio.

Singapore-based Virtuos works as external developer for game development and art production for 3A titles – first-class games.

It now has 3,800 employees across the world including a studio in Shanghai. Its clients cover 23 of the top 25 game companies and movie studios in the world, involved in production and design of titles of Call of Duty, Final Fantasy and NBA series.

During a ChinaJoy forum, Virtuos experts shared experience of cross-platform development's issues, like performance memory usage and delivery.

With smartphone tech constantly evolving, the quality of mobile games is getting closer to 3A level.

Virtuos, a leader in high-quality production on consoles, can bring that experience into the process of creating high-quality mobile games, said Wang Weiwei, Virtuos Shanghai studio general manager.

Virtuos Shanghai studio, founded in 2004 as the company's first batch studio globally, has successfully shipped 3A console titles. The local studio serves clients including Tencent and NetEase.

Shanghai has become a center for China's rapidly-expanding games industry, as the city is home to many game firms with rich talent resource, Wang added.

Also during ChinaJoy, three Chinese games, including two from Shanghai, were included in Sony PlayStation's third China Hero Project. It supports domestic game firms to expand globally on its PlayStation platform.

A city as an eSports hub

After the 2023 carnival summer, another busy and more exciting summer will come in Shanghai in 2024.

Riot Games' Valorant Masters Shanghai will take place next summer, which will bring regional winners to the city, Shanghai Daily learnt during a ChinaJoy's eSports conference.

The city has prioritized the eSports industry and expects to bring together numerous partners and resources for greater synergy.

Shanghai a magnet for game fans and studios
Ti Gong

A Valorant competition was held in Shanghai this summer.

Valorant, a popular 5 vs 5 first-person shooter (FPS) PC game, was developed by Riot Games, developer of popular titles like the League of Legends (LoL).

It's operated by Tencent on the Chinese mainland. The tech giant plans to invest 1 billion yuan over three years to boost a "Valorant gaming culture and ecosystem," Tencent said in July in Shanghai.

Two Chinese eSports teams have advanced to the top eight at an ongoing global Valorant championship event in Los Angeles. The teams, EDG, or Edward Gaming, and BLG, or Bilibili Gaming, are both headquartered in Shanghai.

In the first half of this year, a third of China's eSports events were held in Shanghai while the city is home to 52 eSports teams, accounting for a quarter of the total national teams, local officials said.

The city is turning itself into a global eSports hub and developing the gaming and eSports industry, one of the fastest-growing sectors in the digital economy.

Also on Wednesday, Riot Games announced the debut of China's league VCT CN since 2024, as Valorant's fourth official regional league.

In total 10 eSports teams will be invited to attend the coming VCT CN matches in 2024, with subsidies and incentive programs by Riot.

Shanghai a magnet for game fans and studios
Ti Gong

A new 2024 season plan in China was released on Wednesday.

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