BEIJING: The mobile gaming sector in China could triple in size within three years, new industry research has estimated.

Figures from iResearch, the consulting group, stated that the paid mobile gaming market was worth RMB5.2bn in 2012 and could reach RMB14bn by 2015.

Separate research from Analysys International, a Beijing research firm, indicated that the market grew 25% during the last quarter of 2012

"Online mobile games have successfully established a working payment system and an increasing number of smartphone owners in China are willing to pay for nicely designed games," Xue Yongfeng, a researcher with Analysys International, told the China Daily.

The country's biggest mobile games operator is Tencent, which claimed a 20% market share during the third quarter of 2012.

"Launching with Tencent QQ, the most used online chat software in China, the company's online gaming platform enjoys the world's largest user base, one that competitors will find difficult to challenge," said Xue.

Smaller developers, by contrast, have a very short time span in which to see a return on their investment, needing to catch the attention of gamers within around two weeks.

"Only 10% could make a profit in the industry," said Xiao Yongquan, CEO of online game portal, adding that a quarter of developers folded before they were able to release any games.

In terms of platforms, Lei Zhang, US general manager of CocoaChina, an international mobile games developer based in China, last week said on VentureBeat that the Android game market would overtake Apple's iOS in China.

"While iOS devices continue to be a status symbol for white-collar demographics, Android phones are quickly snapping up market share from the bottom up," he noted. And this wider availability of more affordable phones would result in Android taking an estimated 80% of Chinese mobile game revenue.

He offered some advice to Western games developers: they will "need to have the technological capability to publish across the entire spectrum of Android devices, and secure a local partnership to drive both marketplace inclusion and localisation".

Data sourced from China Daily/VentureBeat; additional content by Warc staff