Chinese gaming giants Tencent and NetEase are locked in a high-stakes battle for dominance in the explosively growing party games genre. Tencent recently launched Dream Star, a mobile title that allows friends to compete in obstacle course races. The move takes direct aim at NetEase’s hit game Eggy Party, which has amassed 500 million registrations since its May 2022 release.
Tencent has pledged over $197 million upfront investment in Dream Star’s development and esports ecosystem. The company is leveraging its social media dominance to attract users, including ubiquitous platforms like WeChat and QQ. With the rival games positioned as potential blockbusters, the fight for the casual gaming crown could determine leadership in the $45 billion Chinese gaming market.
Analysts see party games as a breakout category tapping into demand for social competition. As Zhang Shule of CBJ Think Tank stated: “The formats were relatively simple [before]. Eggy Party caters to the psychological needs of players, forming a breakthrough.” The upcoming Lunar New Year period is considered crucial for explosive adoption.
Eggy Party’s surprise success underscores rising competition beyond the Tencent-NetEase duopoly. Developers like miHoYo behind Genshin Impact are releasing compelling new titles. Domestic regulators also began approving more licenses to smaller studios in 2022.
NetEase has significantly outpaced Tencent in recent gaming growth, recording a 16.5% increase last quarter compared to Tencent’s 8.7%. While Tencent retains over twice NetEase’s gaming revenues overall, its lead looks increasingly tenuous. Party games present a high-profile chance to reassert dominance through Dream Star.
With casual gaming still underserved and the market valuing each company at over $300 billion, the party game showdown shapes up as a pivotal moment in the Chinese gaming landscape. Both tech leaders need breakout titles to keep high-growth momentum. By dueling to set the standard in social party competitions, Tencent and NetEase could determine who rules gaming in the years ahead.
- Tencent launches Dream Star party game to compete with NetEase’s hit Eggy Party
- Companies vying to lead explosively growing casual/social gaming space in China
- Tencent leveraging WeChat/QQ platforms to attract users and pledged $197M investment
- Eggy Party driving NetEase gaming growth; smaller developers also rising competitors
- Party games seen as chance to reassert leadership as competition in gaming market heats up.