Oh joy! Digital games travel the Silk Road

Updated 2017-08-02 10:11:54 Shanghai Daily
Chinese game firms are building a new digital Silk Road to connect the world. (Jiang Xiaowei)

Chinese game firms are building a new digital Silk Road to connect the world. (Jiang Xiaowei)

China's "Belt and Road" initiative aims to create a modern version of the Old Silk Road, but instead of exporting products like silk and porcelain, it is providing a conduit to take the mainland's game and entertainment services to the world.

The digital Silk Road was a highlight of the recent ChinaJoy show in Shanghai, Asia's biggest game fair.

Among new developments, a Chinese developer is turning "Game of Thrones," the fantasy world first described by American author George R.R. Martin, into a mobile game, and the 600-year-old Chinese saga "Journey to the West" will become a Sony PlayStation game.

"Games are part of the future world, connecting everything across countries and cultures," Edward Cheng, vice president of Tencent, told a forum at ChinaJoy.

The four-day ChinaJoy -— which is officially called the China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference — attracted 342,700 game fans and visitors last week.

Chinese game companies, including Tencent, Perfect World, Shanda Games, Linekong, Youzu and Ant VR, are becoming more sophisticated in their pursuit of markets along the digital Silk Road.

National game industry revenue in the first six months of this year surged about 20 percent to almost 100 billion yuan (US.5 billion) amid booming mobile Internet development and cross-industry integration, according to the China Gaming Industry Report released during ChinaJoy.

Games developed in China generated revenue of US.99 billion in overseas markets in the first half, up 58 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the report, which was compiled by International Data Corp and other research firms in the industry.

Chinese game makers have developed diversified products, like action role-playing games, strategy games, card games and music games for markets in the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. That contrasts with a former focus mainly set on action role-playing games aimed at Asia.

"It's not surprising to see people playing China-developed games on the streets of Brazil or Iran," said Robert Xiao, chief executive of Perfect World, which has released games in more than 100 offshore markets since it started global expansion in 2008.

During ChinaJoy, Hong Kong-listed Linekone announced the release of a music entertainment application for Southeast Asia markets, targeting people aged between 13 and 24. It is the latest overseas expansion for the mainland company after its entry into South Korea, the US, Hong Kong and Macau.

Progress in Chinese game development and overseas sales hasn't gone unnoticed by global giants like Google, Nvidia, Sony and HTC. They have offered to collaborate with mainland companies to hitch a ride on the digital Silk Road.

The Chinese government is doing its part to facilitate expansion, promising faster approval processes and service platforms to help local game firms go global.

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