China—The world’s digital entertainment hub

It’s game on for Microsoft and Sony scouting the Chinese market for the next big titles.

Omid Rahmat
Genshin Impact, which features an anime-style open world, has left a big impact on gaming across the globe. Can Microsoft beat Sony to the altar and bring popular Chinese games to its streaming service? 


Microsoft’s gaming business is playing catch-up to Sony in China, and you can thank Genshin Impact for that. If you don’t know what Genshin Impact is, don’t beat yourself up because you’re stuck on BoJack Horseman and don’t get anime. Genshin Impact is multiplatform role-playing game (RPG) that made $3 billion in its first year for its Chinese developer, miHoYo. A lot of that coming from mobile in China, Japan, and South Korea, although the game also enjoyed the largest ever mobile RPG launch in the US in 2020. It’s a big deal.

So, you can understand why Microsoft has been building a team to scout the Chinese game market, not to mention the fact that Sony has been doing a better job of it and made inroads quicker. While Hollywood has been crafting blockbusters to appeal to Chinese audiences, the Chinese film industry has never been able to make similar inroads into the West. When it comes to interactive entertainment, however, that’s definitely not the case. Chinese games are big-budget productions that are competing worldwide. 

But there is another comparison with Hollywood that shouldn’t go unnoticed: Both Sony and Microsoft need big names for their streaming services. Much like Netflix building up its portfolio of films and television shows with content from Asia (Squid Game is great, but The Wandering Earth is sublime), Microsoft is going to have to reach far and wide, dig deep into its pockets, and make sure it isn’t getting left behind by Sony. Gen Z, or anyone who wasn’t around when the Rolling Stones had skin elasticity, is culturally neutral to some extent because they are growing up in a digital social environment that is borderless. Anime is as relevant to US audiences as Disney animation was to international audiences in the ’50s and ’60s. So, the battle between Microsoft and Sony is going to be full of ground wars that have them marching into different countries and trying to vacuum up as many developers as they can for their services because in an all-you-can-eat buffet like streaming, you can never have too many choices.