Strategies of globalization among China’s digital game entrepreneurs

All Abstracts > Strategies of globalization among China’s digital game entrepreneurs

Strategies of globalization among China’s digital game entrepreneurs

Author | Affiliation:
Gejun Huang | Soochow University

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


The recent salvo of overseas investments, mergers and acquisitions initiated by major domestic players manifest the Chinese digital game industry’s aggressive ‘going out’ move. Spearheading “the creation of novelty in the face of fundamental uncertainty about conjectures of value” (Hartley et al., 2012; p. 93), gaming entrepreneurs also play a significant role in this scenario. Since the late 1990s, they have been on the frontline of exploring foreign game markets. Their adoption of emerging technologies and business models, as well as incubation of skilled labors, are central to bridging the domestic industry and the Western counterparts. A stream of political economy research has paid attention to the cause, performance, and influence of China’s entry into the global game industry (e.g., Cheung & Fung, 2016; Chung & Fung, 2012; Fung, 2017). Yet, their interpretations are mainly predicated on macro-level tensions between major companies and the Chinese government, whereas the accounts of gaming entrepreneurs are relatively limited. Besides, they seem to equate online/mobile game with the totality of Chinese digital game industry and fail to consider the coexistence of multiple industry segments in relation to market niches. To address these gaps, this paper aims to articulate gaming entrepreneurs’ decision-making process of bringing their game products/services to overseas game markets. 33 semi-structured interviews with gaming entrepreneurs are conducted in Shanghai, China’s most globalized game industry hub. Adopting the lens of platformization (Nieborg & Poell, 2018), this paper maps these entrepreneurs’ engagement with dominant online platforms (e.g., Apple Store, Google Play, Steam) that mediate relationships between developers, publishers, customers and advertisers in the global game industry. The findings suggest that despite commonly facing the imperative of going out, gaming entrepreneurs reveal heterogeneous approaches to globalization via platforms. The differences are contingent upon their knowledge about situated industry segments and assessment of venture’s core business activities.


Cheung, C. K., & Fung, A. (2016). Globalizing the Chinese Online Game Industry: From Incubation and Hybridization to Structural Expansion in the Past Two Decades. In Global Game Industries and Cultural Policy (pp. 71-90). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Chung, P., & Fung, A. (2013). Internet development and the commercialization of online gaming in China. In Gaming Globally (pp. 233-250). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Fung, A. (2017). Global game industries and cultural policy. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-40760-9

Hartley, J., Potts, J., Flew, T., Cunningham, S., Keane, M., & Banks, J. (Eds.). (2012). Key concepts in creative industries. Sage.

Nieborg, D. B., & Poell, T. (2018). The platformization of cultural production: Theorizing the contingent cultural commodity. New Media & Society, 20(11), 4275-4292. doi:10.1177/1461444818769694

About the author

Gejun Huang


Dr. Gejun Huang is a lecturer in the School of Communication at Soochow University, China. His research has focused on digital game industry, media entrepreneurship, cultural policy, as well as digital divide and inclusion. He has published in Chinese Journal of Communication, American Behavioral Scientists, Information, Communication & Society, and other peer-reviewed journals.

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