What are the performance drivers of China’s video game industry?
: A multi-level modelling analysis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


The video game industry has grown rapidly in the last 20 years and has gained more market share and influence than any other sector of the entertainment industry. The Chinese market, in general, is significantly different from the global market primarily due to the overarching policy environment. The Chinese game market, in particular, is subjected to similar overarching influences and possible impact upon business. This thesis aims to explore the relationships between market environment, firm strategy and performance regarding the Chinese video game market using a multi-level modelling approach. Resource Advantage Theory (R-A Theory) was used to comprehensively analyse the various factors and dynamics affecting the Chinese market and the game industry in particular. An in-depth examination of the differences between Chinese and foreign companies in terms of business models was undertaken. There are three main business models amongst companies in the game industry: game platform, game type and game issuance. These models were analysed based on descriptive statistics, and the results showed that Chinese companies are different from foreign companies in terms of free game strategy. Also, in order to measure the stage of development of the video game industry in China, the results of the game industry inquiry were compared with four other industries with similar business models. Compared to the other industries, the video game industry clearly continues its rapid development. The results indicate there is a significant gap between Chinese and foreign companies in terms of their strategic choice of free game strategy versus mobile game strategy. Furthermore, this gap is gradually but steadily increasing. The results also indicate that the market environment in China has a hierarchical effect on business firms, although the macro-level effect was not as strong as expected. Adopting a corporate strategy model, without consideration of the macro-level effects has as a significant negative influence on performance. Lastly, reviewing the game industry in China is challenging due to pervasive societal and industry opaqueness. This is attributable to the political sensitivities involved in the gaming industry and the impact of objective factors such as the difficulty imposed by regulations. Whether or not this will change in the near future, remains an open question. In the meantime, conditions make it difficult for strategic decision-makers to formulate timely and accurate business judgments at their firm level.
Date of Award24 Jan 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorNikolaos Stylos (Supervisor) & Dimos Andronoudis (Supervisor)

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