The value chain in the Asian online gaming industry: a case study of Taiwan

Chi, C.L. 2009. The value chain in the Asian online gaming industry: a case study of Taiwan. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

TitleThe value chain in the Asian online gaming industry: a case study of Taiwan
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsChi, C.L.

This research examines the changing nature of the Asian online gaming

industry and the position of Taiwan in the regional market. The evidence used was gathered through fieldwork conducted in Taiwan, Beijing and Shanghai from January to October in 2007.

Firstly, it explores the situation from the perspective of political economy in

order to understand the process of commodification, including production, marketing and distribution. The research establishes that the game industry operates within a highly competitive market requiring substantial investments. Since game production requires complex technological skills, there is a high capital cost, and the process is very time consuming. Today's online gaining business has segmented into different sectors with varying roles, i.e. developer, publisher, distributor and operator, controlled by different players in the business. The research shows that Asian game firms seek vertical synergies by expanding complex collaborative networks of

production, marketing and operation in order to minimize costs and maximize

profits. This implies that an international value chain has been established within the regional economy due to that the capacity of modern East Asian cities to accelerate the integration of the online gaming industry into regional economic activity.

Secondly, online gaming overall is a popular form of interactive

entertainment in the intra-Asian market. The key theories used to understand digital games are debated between narratology and ludology. However, neither is capable

of providing an explanation for the Asian gaming culture. On further examination, certain types of game genres, 'wuxia' and 'cute' games, are found to have a

particular appeal for Asian users. The wuxia genre is exclusively circulated in the greater Chinese cultural arena. The 'cute' game originates from the protagonists and themes of Japanese video games. This genre is well accepted by Asian users living in urban environments, and has become a force to unite city gainers in different Asian countries.

Lastly, the thesis explores the unique position of Taiwan's game industry,

which has been transformed from a test-bed for games aimed at the Chinese market into an intermediary between China and the rest of the world. Before 2002, Taiwan was regarded as a springboard for foreign firms wishing to enter the big Chinese market. Now, China's game industry has emerged and Chinese games have been

exported to other Asian countries. Currently Taiwan is the biggest export market. The sophisticated features of the Taiwanese market mean that it can act as a stepping stone for Chinese game firms wishing to expand into wider regional and global


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