PC gamers playing online games in China will reach 354 million by 2023 — more than the entire population of the United States. That overwhelming number of players will be responsible for making China’s enormous games industry an estimated $16 billion USD by that same year—and keep in mind that mobile games are an even bigger market in China. The Report, not only summarizes the 2018 year for PC gaming in China but also projects where the industry will be in 2023.

The Niko Partners’ 2019 China PC Online Games Market Report states:

  • Foreign games account for 60 percent of China’s PC gaming revenue in 2018
  • China currently has 138,000 internet cafes
  • Esports revenue was $6.3 billion in 2018, accounting for 41.4% of PC online games revenue and is projected to reach $9.5 billion in 2023.

The Chinese PC games market has remained resilient in spite of heavy government regulations. Last year the Chinese government put a temporary freeze on the licensing all new games must obtain to legally publish and monetize in China and in spite of that approval freeze, though, China’s PC gaming industry still raked in $15.21 billion in 2018, with a total of 312.4 million PC gamers, 79.7 million of which were actually spending money on games.

To contextualize that figure, the entire US videogames industry—including PC, mobile, and console games—only brought in $30.4 billion in revenues in 2018, according to Newzoo.

PC gamers playing online games at an Internet cafe in Fuyang, Anhui province, China.
People playing online games at an Internet cafe in Fuyang, Anhui province, China.

Niko Partners’ report also includes estimated revenue for Steam, which is becoming an increasingly important part of PC gaming in China. For the last few years, Steam has somehow managed to stay available to Chinese gamers while other services, like Twitch, have been blocked or altered by Chinese government censorship. Through Steam, Chinese players can play games that would probably never be approved for sale, like Grand Theft Auto 5. 

Over 24 percent of Steam users have set their language to simplified Chinese, and China is the biggest source of download traffic from Steam. Earlier this year, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds said that Asia contributed to 53 percent of its $920 million in revenue.

The takeaway here is that China’s PC gaming industry is massive and, though outpaced by mobile games and slowed by changes in regulations, still growing steadily.