China's economy may be slowing down, but the country hasn't lost its luster.
South Korea's fourth-largest online game publisher Neowiz Games Corp (KOSDAQ: 095660) said Monday it is looking to grab a piece of China's fast-growing mobile gaming space, Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports.
Chinese mobile gamers will soon surpass the number of PC gamers, with the total expected to reach 192 million in 2012 alone, according to a recent report released by research firm Niko Partners.
More importantly, the majority of Chinese gamers (64 percent) spend money on online games each month - far higher than in other developing countries.
The report forecasts that mobile games revenue will realize a sixfold increase from the 2011 market of $600 million in the next five years.
"Niko projects fast growth in mobile games revenue in China led by rising adoption of 3G usage, soaring sales of smartphones from a wide array of vendors, and the desire to play entertaining, inexpensive games on these smart mobile devices," Lisa Cosmas Hanson, managing partner of Niko Partners, said in a statement. "Mobile games and web-browser games are the two buzzword segments in China's games market this year, and Chinese game companies are racing to deliver their games on multiple platforms to satisfy gamer demand in every way possible."
The China Internet Network Information Center reported in June that there are now more than 388 million mobile Internet users. That's 39 percent of its 1 billion-plus phone owners.
Monday's announcement is not Neowiz's first attempt to tap into China's booming online gaming market. The creator of the popular first-person shooter Crossfire first created its Chinese division in 2007.
Neowiz also has several popular games on Apple's App Store, including the official game for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
And of course, Neowiz will be facing heated domestic competition in China.
China's Tencent Holdings Ltd (HKG: 0700) is currently the nation's largest gaming company. The integrated Internet-services company claims more than 95 percent of China's Internet user base as its customers. Tencent is the gateway to the online world for hundreds of millions of Chinese and has a market value of $55 billion, which tops Facebook's value of $50 billion.
For Chinese users, Tencent is kind of like a combination of Aol, Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, Gmail, Norton, and Twitter, but all under one roof.
Beijing-based games development agency Yodo1 is another active player in the mobile gaming space. The company raised $2 million in June with the purpose to assist American developers as they seek to bring their games to China.
The9 Limited (Nasdaq: NCTY), the developer and operator of online gams including Shen Xian Zhuan and Re Xue Wu Shuang, is also busy ramping up its mobile division to take advantage of the growing market.