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Written By Chris Mills 慕乐文

Mobile Game Development in the Chinese Market – Fragmentation / Chinese Channels

March 10, 2014 | business / china / app development / gaming

As I discussed in previous blog entries, business in China is hard and releasing content is even harder. One of the major challenges that isn’t typically a consideration around most of the world is how to distribute your app to the end users. For example, if you are looking at the Android platform in America your primary focus is Google Play with some consideration of placing your APK on the Amazon App Store. Google Play, the largest distribution of APKs across the world, is blocked in China. Due to the inability for the Chinese government to control the content provided by Google they were exiled from the country (I’m being over dramatic…). It is, however, almost impossible to install the Google Play store or any Google Services on any Chinese-based cellphone. The core OS has been changed to prevent this from happening and the only work around is to root your cellphone.

With the blackball of the Google Play store, a hole was left in the market for a local Chinese-based company to fill. As is always the case in China, when opportunity presents itself hundreds of companies step up to the challenge. That is exactly what happened in this instance. There are over a hundred stores across all of China controlling both app discovery and app distribution that are all competing for the same space. The following graphic was created through months of work and research and only showcases the major networks being operated in China:

Visualization of China's Fragmented Mobile Market

Hitcents China has had to establish a working relationship with every one of the companies represented above. Most of the major stores required one or more in-person meetings to showcase the games and agree upon a launch date for upcoming releases. Each store requires its own package name (i.e. com.hitcents.stickman.360) and different customizations such as splash screens, custom user interfaces, exit screens, promotions, and so on. Each store also has different requirements for APK submission including different screen shot sizes and content, as well as their own testing process prior to app release. Each promotional opportunity is uniquely different and requires communication with the individual store directly. When we launched Draw a Stickman: Epic in China, we released the app on 26 different stores, all of which did a different customizable promotion for the release. Coordinating all of this on the same day was nothing short of an act of supernatural powers. The above are just some challenges faced when releasing an app in China and doesn’t cover other topics such as Chinese payment systems, multiple Madeira based SDK, Carrier support, older Android systems, APK file size limitations and so on. If you are interested in learning more about releasing an App in China contact us here.

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