The Booming Chinese-Themed Gaming Industry

The 'Glory of the King' online game is very popular in China. (Image:  YouTube/Screenshot)
The 'Glory of the King' online game is very popular in China. (Image: YouTube/Screenshot)

With China being a huge gaming market, it was inevitable that games integrating elements from Chinese culture would not only hit the market, but also become popular. The success of Glory of the King, a multiplayer online game that has accumulated more than 200 million users, is proof of this trend. The game, produced by China’s tech giant Tencent, features a strong dose of traditional Chinese culture that sets it apart from other mainstream games.

Chinese culture in gaming

According to a survey by China Youth Daily, nearly 86 percent of respondents agreed that they were fond of games that featured elements from their native traditions. In fact, about 23 percent showed a very high interest in such games. The director of Glory of the King, Li Xin, believes that such games garner success largely because Chinese gamers are better able to connect to the characters of the game.

“We need to use new media catering to the youth, such as online literature, animation, music, and games, to develop traditional culture,” Luo Shixian, PR director of Tencent’s entertainment sector, said in a statement (Borneo Bulletin).

Tencent has also been successful in popularizing Chinese culture oriented games abroad. The foreign version of Glory of the King, entitled “Arena of Valor,” was released by the company in 16 languages in over 85 countries. Within the first half of 2018, over 100 million foreign users had registered for the game.

The foreign version of Glory of the King, titled ‘Arena of Valor’, was released by the company in 16 languages in over 85 countries. (Image: YouTube/Screenshot)

The foreign version of ‘Glory of the King,’ entitled ‘Arena of Valor,’ was released by the company in 16 languages in over 85 countries. (Image: YouTube / Screenshot)

There have been many popular games set in China. Some of the most popular ones include Dynasty Warriors, Overwatch, Kane & Lynch 2: and Dog Days. However, there has never been a push to project Chinese culture through games. Glory of the King marks a change in such attitudes, enticing Chinese game developers to include more traditional Chinese elements in their games.

Industry experts believe that popularizing Chinese games abroad, especially in the West, can be a good way to bridge cultures of the two regions and develop an interest in China among foreigners.

Cracking down on games

Unfortunately, the Chinese government has been cracking down on games over the past months. Several games have not been approved. The harsh stance comes after officials became concerned over increasing depictions of violence and sex in the games. The Communist Party also seems to be perturbed by the ideological content of some games, calling them “non-socialist.”

Tencent is one of the biggest gaming service providers in China. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

In addition, officials are worried over reports that children were becoming increasingly myopic due to gaming for long periods. Tencent has apparently decided to limit the number of hours a child can spend on online games. For now, the Chinese gaming industry is under severe pressure, with many game companies reporting lower revenues. Tencent even reported its first profit drop in about a decade. However, many believe that this is only a short-term trend.

“We don’t think that the regulation will impact the sector forever… China’s whole online gaming industry is having some issues — not only because of regulation, but also because Chinese gamers are becoming more mature and selective,” Shawn Yang, the Executive Director for Hong Kong-based investment advisement firm Blue Lotus, said in a statement (Mashable).

New rules and policies regarding gaming are being framed by the authorities. Once they are implemented, the Chinese gaming industry is expected to be back on track. 

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