Gaming Power on the Global Stage: The Case of Tencent in China

All Abstracts > Gaming Power on the Global Stage: The Case of Tencent in China

Gaming Power on the Global Stage: The Case of Tencent in China

Authors | Affiliation:
Zixue Tai | University of Kentucky; Fengbin Hu | Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences

Presenting at:
Panel 1B |  Games and E-sports


In the backdrop of the economic rise of China as a world powerhouse, the growth of the video game sector from virtual non-existence to a global leader in the past two decades is nothing short of spectacular. Three important, albeit not exactly parallel, trajectories have defined the development of China’s video game industry: steady explosion of the online gaming sector at the turn of the 21st century, followed by the fast-paced maturation of the mobile market, coupled by the recent expansion of the console game business.  Elements of homogeneity (i.e., integration with the global game business) and heterogeneity (i.e., domestic deviance from overall patterns in most other countries) can be found in all three. This presentation offers a critical analysis of Tencent, a leading Internet company in China as well as one of the world’s largest multinational conglomerates, in its role as a vital player in the global game market. Notably, as the world’s largest gaming company, Tencent owns QQ and WeChat – two of the most popular social networking platforms in China –  and ranks as No. 1 in profit margins among the 129 Chinese companies making to the Fortune 500 world’s largest companies in 2019.  

Our discussion is grounded in the overall context of China’s national strategic emphasis on reaching out to the global marketplace in recent years, and our focus is placed on the three broad situational factors of China’s national policy initiatives, Tencent’s gaming market structure, and its corporate strategies in breaking into the global game marketplace. Tencent’s global success to a large extent hinges upon its unrivalled place as a dominant power in China’s domestic market coupled with its deep pockets of global financial prowess. Its global initiative has also been driven by the necessity to search for new areas of growth and expansion due to installation of new state regulatory policies in 2018, which largely freezes the approval of new game title licenses in the China’s domestic market. Emerging strategies in the global marketplace include forming partnerships with foreign companies, innovative business models, creative repurposing of existing productions, and opening up new opportunities through global investment. We also compare Tencent’s cross-national strategies in its game business in the U.S. and Southeast Asia, two of the most profitable overseas markets for Tencent. Finally, we discuss the implications of the Tencent game operations for the global outflow of China’s cultural capital and soft power as well as the varied challenges Tencent faces in the world.

About the authors

Zixue Tai


Zixue Tai (Ph.D., Minnesota) is an associate professor and head of the Media Arts and Studies program in the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky. His research interests primarily relate new media and video games in China. He is the author of The Internet in China: Cyberspace and Civil Society (Routledge, hardback in 2006; paperback released in 2013), and his research has published with journals such as International Communication Gazette, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, New Media & Society, Journal of Communication, Sociology of Health & Illness, and Psychology & Marketing.

Fengbin Hu

Email: –

Fengbin Hu (Ph.D., Shanghai University) is currently a research assistant professor in the Institute of China Studies at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and a research fellow with the Lab for Big Data and Communication in Jinan University. He was a visiting scholar at the University of Kentucky as well as a postdoctoral fellow at Fudan University. His research interests mostly focus on video games, and social media theory and practice, particularly as they relate to Chinese culture and society. 

%d bloggers like this: