Evolving Business in the App Age
I recently had the opportunity to attend and present at this year’s Casual Connect, an event aimed at professionals in the casual games industry. I spoke about app development and expanding the reach of a company’s app, with a particular focus on the Chinese market, and I used our story with Hitcents and Draw a Stickman Epic as a primary example.
An underlying idea behind this presentation was the realization that companies can evolve and grow. I know firsthand through the success of Draw A Stickman Epic, which began as the website DrawaStickman.com. When our website went viral, gaining over one million views within thirty-six hours, I realized that there was latent potential.
With that experience our business model began to change, shifting from solely business-to-business opportunities to a model that directly impacted the end user and incorporated a gaming division. We have had great commercial and critical success with Draw a Stickman Epic, having received the Webby Award for Best Tablet Game of The Year. It is a definite highlight knowing that our game brings joy and entertainment to people around the world.
Uncovering Opportunities In The Chinese Mobile Market
We recently expanded to the Chinese market, launching the Chinese version of Draw a Stickman Epic and establishing an office in Shanghai. This presents unique opportunities and challenges. With 550 million active smartphone users in China today, and 528 million who are currently playing mobile games, there’s a huge amount of potential clients.
Addressing Market Differences
The challenges stem from the differences in how apps are designed and launched, as well as customer behaviors—how customers acquire and pay for apps. For example, as of 2014, 57% of Android apps are actually downloaded from a mobile assistant program rather than directly through a smartphone, because bandwidth is limited and many individuals do not have Wi-Fi in their homes. This has implications on not only potential users, but also on companies who want to market their apps in China. Whereas we tend to buy ad campaigns on the phone in the rest of the world, in China we often buy ads for desktop applications.
Then there is the highly fragmented app store system. With over 20 popular app stores in China, great diligence is required to establish relationships with publishers and push your app through to the appropriate channels so that it will receive maximum exposure and reach your target audience. Other considerations to keep in mind are whether your company will modify its app for the Chinese market and to what extent it will implement these changes. In the case of Draw a Stickman, we implemented both localization and culturalization techniques. Localization refers to translating the language used. Culturalization goes beyond that and utilizes locals to create an experience that is tailored to the existing culture of the area. This could entail substantially changing characters and background graphics to align with sights that are more familiar to the end user.
In line with our goal to set trends, we’re looking for the next opportunity in mobile gaming. We anticipate a growth in the use midcore games, games that require more of an investment by the user than the casual games we have seen to this point. At Hitcents, we have plans to launch several midcore games in the future.
The full video of my presentation at Casual Connect can be viewed below.