Isolation From COVID-19 Brings Significant Mobile Gaming Growth In China

2020.3.26 Uncategorized by COCOS

With Chinese New Year ending in January, a long required isolation hit most of China after Wuhan was hit with the COVID-19 virus. During the month of February, rumors were that mobile gaming would grow significantly from last year. Gamma Data just released its numbers for February, and it shows that it may have exceeded what many predicted.


According to Gamma Data’s article on WeChat (Chinese only), the data collected shows there was an 18.6% increase in mobile gaming this year compared to February of 2019. They also found there was a 29.1% increase in gameplay after this year’s holiday compared to last year’s holiday. Overall, gamers kept gaming weeks after the holiday with only a drop of 7.4% in gaming after the holiday, compared to last year’s dropoff of 17%.

While the numbers were good for people playing, a few trends started to appear that could hurt some games coming out this year. While the top 10 continues to show off a lot of long-lasting great games like Kings of Honor, AFK Arena (Built with Cocos), and Fantasy Westward Journe (Built with Cocos),  there looks to be a changing narrative from last year of what genres will be the big winners. One example is the growth of the FPS games like Game For Peace (China’s PUBG Mobile) that have finally eaten the lunch of other genres that were popular years ago.

Top 10 mobile games in China for February 2020. Source: Gamma Data


As most other countries are hit with the coronavirus, it’s interesting to see how this affected China, one of the first places hit by the epidemic. Gamma Data gave us some interesting statistics that might help developers getting hit with the crisis now and what might happen with them.

Gamers aren’t looking for new games

Though this might not be the case for consoles worldwide with the release of Animal Crossing on the Switch and Doom Eternal. For mobile gamers in China, many stuck to what they were playing the month before then look to new games on mobile. Only four new games made it to iOS’s top 200 games last month, the worst showing in over two years. Some of this may also be due to the companies not releasing new games during the shutdown in China, as well as wanting not to begin marketing a game during the tough weeks ahead.

New games in China’s App Store that are in the top 200. Source: Gamma Data

Some genres skyrocket, most genres tank

Comparing the top 50 games on iOS in China during January and February, the games look extremely dissimilar to each other.  ARPG, Strategy, and Racing games fell sharply with both MOBA and Idle games taking massive dips. Shooters and collectible card games grew with tabletop board games genre increasing at nearly 12% for the month. This shows a lot of the games people were playing were more towards social casual compared to the more hardcore gaming that usually dominates the top 50 in China.

Change from January to February 2020 in iOS top 50. Source: Gamma Data

For this month, as things have started to get back to normal in some cities in China, it will be interesting to see if old habits return, or if this trend continues for the coming year. Only time will tell and we hope that at this time, you and your family are safe during this troubling month and the months ahead.