Beijing's animation firms hit pay dirt

2021-03-24 12:04:01

Cosplayers gather at an ACG event in Beijing in October. [Photo provdied to China Daily] ACG rides policies for output value of $16b, with exports reaching $7b in 2020 Not just the national capital and a hub of traditional culture, Beijing now has a new feather in its cap it earned as a center of modern culture-the country's biggest exporter of animation, comics and games. Dubbed ACG, the digital business segment has grown rapidly in recent years. A report published by the Beijing Animation and Game Industry Alliance said the output value of Beijing-based ACG companies' exports in 2020 reached 45.93 billion yuan ($7 billion), up 30 percent year-on-year. "Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu are the other cities in China that also develop ACG products. But, Beijing's scale and output value are bigger," said Dong Xue, deputy director of the industry alliance. Beijing's total ACG output value, including exports and domestic market sales, reached $16.28 billion in 2020, up 32 percent, and a little more than 19 percent of the nation's total. "The government has been proving supportive policies to help the (ACG) companies to go overseas. Meanwhile, the quality of our ACG products, especially digital games of our Chinese companies, has been improving. They are now competitive in foreign markets," Dong said. China's ACG market had boomed between 2014 and 2018 as startups sprouted, with their entrepreneurial founders receiving support of venture capital and private equity firms. Fierce competition ensued, and the best among the lot not only survived but thrived in the domestic market, gradually graduating to the level of world-class exporters. Some of them are now good enough to list on overseas bourses, Dong said. According to the industry alliance, games from Chinese companies now account for around half of the market share in Japan and South Korea. "As of June last year, Chinese digital games accounted for about 30 percent of the market in the United States," Dong said. "The mainstream of the gaming industry is still Western products, but Chinese games with their unique characteristics and the ones with high quality also attract a large number of players." Yi Di, vice-president of Perfect World, a major movie and game conglomerate in China, said Chinese companies have attained a significant achievement in overseas markets with increasingly growing revenues and position in the international arena. "However, we should realize that we cannot depend on just a few hit games to maintain the influence of Chinese games in the global market. Instead, we should establish a global gaming industrial chain against the backdrop of the rapid development of 5G technology," he said. Beijing's municipal government has been offering preferential policies to support the ACG segment of the entertainment industry. The Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area has said it will provide 500,000 square meters of space with subsidized rent for ACG companies. It will also attract top-end ACG professionals like game developers through a 1-billion-yuan fund, which will be used to offer them housing and support for their children's education. A financing platform has been established to serve ACG companies that serve the needs of the sector.