Market Insight

China Joy 2019: Smartphone manufacturers partner with Qualcomm to enhance vision for mobile gaming

August 06, 2019

Chenyu Cui Chenyu Cui Senior Research Analyst, Games

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Partnerships enable a more complete mobile gaming offering

During China Joy, Oppo, Vivo, Nubia and Xiaomi presented their latest smartphone models for premium gaming in Qualcomm’s Pavilion. Qualcomm introducedSnapdragon Elite Gaming, a set of hardware and software features that "transforms premium mobile devices into gaming machines". The technology is available on these smartphone models, powered by the Snapdragon 855. Interestingly, Qualcomm just announced a strategic collaboration agreement with Tencent to work on projects related to 5G mobile gaming devices, game content optimizations, cloud gaming and AR/VR.  5G smartphones have become more accessible and appealing due to growing 5G network coverage, but a lack of content and reliance on 5G might prevent users from investing. Partnering Tencent could partially address the vacuum of 5G content, and thus trigger gamers’ interest in 5G devices.

Gaming-focused smartphone technology could appeal to hardcore players

The phone manufacturers mentioned above also showed off new gaming hardware during China Joy. Xiaomi brought a custom Black Shark game controller designed for the Redmi K20 series to its booth and announced the launch of a new Xiaomi Gaming Laptop, available on August 16th. Oppo showcased ‘Game Color Plus’ which provides ultra-realistic, augmented imaging, and ‘Dual WiFi technology’ that boosts network speed. Honor of Kings and QQ Speed were the primary games used to demonstrate the high specs of the smartphone models. As growth of smartphone sales has flattened in recent years, entering the gaming industry enables smartphone vendors to explore gamer-specific needs.

The mobile esports scene is growing

Previously, game developers and publishers represented the majority of the attendees at China Joy, but now the hardware companies have leveraged the opportunity to enter the games market. This is thanks to the expanding mobile games industry, with particular emphasis on mobile esports. IHS Markit forecasts the Chinese mobile games market to reach $22.9billion in 2023. Smartphone vendors have seen great market potential for hardware which give gamers the freedom to play PC or console-quality games on a handheld device. Also, sponsorship of esports championships could improve the position of smartphone companies who seek  to produce premium devices with high level graphics and processing performance, as well as long battery life.

High-specification devices may have limited global appeal

Battle royale titles such as Garena Free Fire and PUBG Mobile already host mobile tournaments such as the Free Fire World Cup and the PUBG Mobile Star Challenge, These titles are especially popular in Asia and emerging gaming markets such as India and Brazil, and this is partly due to how well they run on lower-spec devices which are widely used. As such, the appeal of high-end gaming smartphones like those presented at China Joy may be limited to players of more demanding games. However, the inherently competitive nature of esports means that top-quality hardware is crucial for play in tournaments where factors such as quick response times and accuracy are paramount. Upon seeing esports professionals using these devices, the wider player-base may be tempted to try them out. 

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