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77% of Chinese Youth Reduced Gaming Time in 2022 as a Result of Government Restrictions

SILICON VALLEY, Calif. – August –, 2022 – Niko Partners, a market research and consulting firm covering video games, esports, and streaming in Asia and the Middle East, today announced the release of their 2022 China Youth Gamers report. China is the world’s largest and most important market for video games and esports. New regulations that went live in September 2021 further restricted the amount of time that gamers under the age of 18 in China could play video games. This report shows who China’s youth gamers (defined as ages 6-17 for this report) are, what they do with their time, what priorities they have, and what impact the regulations have had on their gaming behavior.

Key takeaways from the 92-slide report include:

  • The NPPA further strengthened anti-addiction regulations and reduced the amount of time that minors can play online video games from September 1, 2021. The new rules stated that people under 18 years old will be allowed to play only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and legal holidays, for one hour per day between 8pm and 9pm. This limits minors to 3 hours per week
  • Gaming penetration peaked in 2020 with 60% of Chinese youth playing games (vs 52% of the overall population)
  • After the 3-hour regulation was implemented, the percentage of youth gamers dropped to 40% (vs 49% of the overall population)
  • We forecast a return to near peak levels by 2026 with 56% of the youth population playing games (compared to 51% of general population)
  • 77% of Chinese youth play fewer hours per week as a direct result of the regulation
  • 54% of youth gamers now only play within the approved hours set by the government as a result of the 3-hour regulation
  • 54% of primary school students play video games, compared to 72% of junior high school students and 62% of senior high school students. The decline for senior high school students can be attributed to higher studying hours and less leisure time compared to other students
  • 86% of youth gamers play on mobile, 30% play on PC and 6% play on console
  • While we expect the esports talent pipeline to be negatively impacted, games with an esports component continue to remain the most played among youth and the older a child gets, the more likely they are to be interested in esports

“As soon as Niko Partners learned of the regulation limiting gameplay for youth to 3 specific hours per week, we knew that it would impact the overall games and esports market in China,” said Lisa Hanson, founder and president of Niko Partners. “The findings of this report reflect the strong impact, but youth gamers remain a vital part of the games market. Gamers, developers and game publishers will necessarily adjust to the new system in the coming years.”

Niko’s research methodology for games market reports includes gamer surveys, trends analysis on key topics such as esports, leading games and game company market share estimates, review of regulations and policy, interviews with key game companies, analysis of drivers and inhibitors for growth, review of distribution, hardware, payments, internet cafes, and more. Each market report provides a comprehensive market model and 5-year forecast of games and gamers, and qualitative and quantitative analysis on gamer demand, behavior and usage for games.

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Niko Partners is a market research and consulting firm covering video games, esports, and streaming in Asia and the Middle East. Founded in 2002, Niko provides qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, and strategic advisory services to deliver the intelligence and answers necessary to truly understand these complex markets. Niko’s products include market reports and forecasts, the China Games Industry database, the Asia Esports Tracker, the China Games Streaming Tracker, and the Asia and MENA News Analysis Service; and custom research and consulting services including focus groups, product and gamer studies, surveys, investor due diligence, IPO and market opportunity analysis, and transaction advisory services. The company is based in Silicon Valley, with offices in Shanghai, Bangkok, Jakarta and London.