China's domestic mobile gaming firms, such as Tencent, which has developed into the world's biggest gaming firm by revenues in a short span, have outweighed the leading counterparts in the Western advanced economies. Despite an increasing attention has been paid to the global investment of Chinese gaming firms, this paper argues that their market expansion has focused on the selected Southeast Asian countries. This arguement is developed through the aurthors' extensive field investigation and personal interviews with games developers and publishers in Shenzhen, where Tencent is located, during the early 2017 and late 2019. We showcase that the protective multi-scalar institutions in which the Chinese gaming firms have dominated in the domestic market, have prevented the overseas market expansion of these firms. Although the government-designated extra-local inter-firm collaboration has helped narrow the technological gaps and articulate China’s firms into the global production networks, the market gaps between the domestic and western economies have not been overcome in the expansion to overseas markets. This study sheds light on that the market expansion of Chinese gaming firms has stucked in a dilemma between globalization and regionalization. While China’s domestic gaming firms, particularly Tencent, have been evolving into lead firms in the global games production networks, their market power has been confined at domestic and regional levels.
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Grateful thanks to three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments which have helped improve this paper. An earlier version of the paper was presented at the 5th Global Conference on Economic Geography, Cologne, Germany in July 2018. The research was supported by Germany/Hong Kong Joint Research Grant (G‐HKBU 205/16) co‐funded by the Research Grants Council (RGC), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and a Hong Kong Research Grant Council GRF grant (HKBU12600120).
© 2020 Royal Dutch Geographical Society / Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap.
- globalisation and regionalisation
- market expansion
- mobile gaming firms
- technological and market gaps