Gaming Ecosystem Pinpoints Chinese Gen Z’s Passion | dentsu Z

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dentsu Z unveils Gen Z’s passion in gaming to jump-start a rippling effect for brands.

dentsu Z 
team, as DENTSU CREATIVE's pioneering force of Gen Z creatives, proactively make strategic plans and propose solutions for clients, explore innovative ideas by putting cutting-edge technology into practice and create profound cultural experiences. As both consumers of generation Z and young creatives, dentsu Z deliver direct insights, create connections between the brand and the consumers of the next generation.

Gaming is often labeled as “idleness” by older generations, so many kids and teenagers can only sneakily share their joy in games.

However, 2018 saw our WeChat moments flooded with gaming enthusiasts’ celebrations for China’s IG eSports Club’s winning at the League of Legends World Championship (LoL). In 2021, more than 400 media outlets joined the scoop race when EDG won the 2021 World Championship, and some college students even manically went streaking and played suona to celebrate. In 2022, with Chinese teams scooping three out of eight finalists in the World Championship, what increasingly arose was the Chinese youth’s sense of national pride.

Obviously, gaming as a new culture has been triggering passions and creating social buzz among Gen Z, which has shaped an integrated gaming ecosystem that is more inclusive and open.


In a fast evolution, gaming is versatile in genres with two main categories including multiplayer online battle arena such as StarCraft and League of Legends, and the leisure games ranging from Xiangqi (Chinese chess), Contract Bridge, Mahjong to Dou dizhu (Chinese card game).

According to “China’s eSports Market Research and Forecast 2022–2029,” in 2021, the eSports player scale accounted for 73% of the overall players in the gaming market, with sales revenue over 14 billion yuan, representing nearly half of the whole market sales.

eSports have been increasingly popularized nowadays. The just-ended LoL Season 12 Finals attracted 5.1 million viewers at the peak, making it the most watched game ever at the World Championships.
eSports is not just a social phenomenon; even the General Administration of Sport of China has authorized eSports as an official sports program and later founded a national Chinese eSports team. Some colleges and universities also offer a major in eSports. In 2021, eSports was incorporated into China’s “14th Five-Year Cultural Development Plan.”

According to the “2020 Global eSports Industry Development Report,” the number of Chinese Sports players saw an increase of nearly 26 million to become the eSports market with the greatest commercial value.


As Gen Z players have varied preferences for games, the gaming community demonstrates a trend of differentiation. Players often connect and gather together around a specific game to exchange and interact, thus further shaping a gaming community, which not only satisfies their desire for sharing but also provides a communication platform for brands to update game content and upgrade product experiences.

The gaming communities can be roughly divided into three categories. For instance, the community built from game-publishing platforms such as TapTap, Steam and WeGame; the official gaming community licensed or created by game companies such as miHoYo, Honor of Kings and Game for Peace; and the gaming community voluntarily built by players in Baidu Tieba, Bilibili, Little Red Book and Weibo’s Super Topics.

Notably, although Little Red Book is often considered solely as a platform dominated by female users to share lifestyles, to our surprise we find around 200,000 posts by Mole’s World’s players which generated nearly 300 million views.

A unique content style of “gaming plus lifestyle” has found its root on Little Red Book, as users are less likely to review and evaluate the overall quality of the game but more inclined to focus on its emotional value. Therefore, we can often see people sharing the gaming technical strategies and highlights that can hook players, which makes Little Red Book a key window to discover players’ user experiences and promote gaming products.


Contemporarily, players not only care about the immersive experiences in the game itself but also the expanded game-centric lifestyles and consumptions including but not limited to live game streaming, value-added products and eSports fandom.

Live game streaming grows in popularity following the Internet’s development and people’s social networking through videos. Douyu, Huya, Bilibili, and ByteDance are among the leading platforms. According to the Qian Zhan Industrial Research Institute's report on the innovation of business models and investment opportunities in the Chinese live streaming industry, the market size of Chinese live game streaming will reach 80 billion yuan by 2026 as industry regulation gradually improves.

Game players are willing to pay for game value-added products because of their favorite games or characters. For example, the role-playing adventure game “Genshin Impact” launched a product that cost 1,299 yuan per item but still sold for more than 30,000 pieces.

Game players are not only fascinated by game characters but also by eSports teams and players. Take EDG for instance. Similar to the fan community, eSports fans support their players on Weibo Super Topics and even place advertisements at New York City’s Times Square for EDG team members. Frustrations hung over many fans when EDG halted at the quarterfinals of this year’s League of Legends.


Brand: Voltaren
Creative Agency: DENTSU CREATIVE

Voltaren, GSK’s topical pain reliever, gained insight into the pains such as arthritis, inflammation, and stiffness suffered by eSports players because of their long hours of gaming. In collaboration with three eSports teams during the DOTA2 international tournament, Voltaren closed the brand’s psychological distance with gamers in and out of the games by launching campaigns connecting both online and offline in-store channels. The brand successfully doubled its sales while importantly breaking boundaries between virtual and real to vivify gaming experiences in our real lives.


With China becoming the world’s largest gaming market, a myriad of brands are keeping an eye on the market to seek brand-new marketing touchpoint in and out of games.

Spotlighting eSports will be a key for brands to understand Gen Z and facilitate fans’ deep engagement in and out of games. To recognize Gen Z’s passions, brands can dig into games to get to know what gaming experiences young people are looking for as well as their perspectives on the gaming world. Be Gen Z’s partners in gaming to inspire quality consumption trends.

Author: dentsu Z