Written By Chris Mills 慕乐文

Mobile Game Development in the Chinese Market – Should you consider it?

March 05, 2014 | business / china / app development / gaming

As a game developer or studio you may be considering expanding your market by looking into other emerging mobile territories across the globe. As I have personally taken on the challenge of expanding the Hitcents mobile distribution channels to the Chinese market I felt it might be helpful to give some pointers for others looking to do the same thing. Below is a list of five things to consider when you’re looking to expand your market:

  1. App Piracy – One thing about the Chinese market is they rip off every app as soon as it hits Google Play. If your game has a chance in China you will need to be monitoring your analytics to see how much traffic you are currently generating from the market. If there is no traffic from China it might be because your game isn’t fit for the market. When we conducted research before releasing Draw a Stickman: Epic in China we noticed over 12 million new users from the Chinese market in a few months’ time.
  2. Localization – Are you willing to change your content? You have to translate your game into simplified Chinese and update game elements to be more familiar to the Chinese culture. In Epic we changed artwork out on every level of the game, including a totally new welcome screen and tutorial.
  3. User Training – One of the most challenging things about the Chinese market is getting the user interested in your game. Chinese players require a lot more training to play a game, with detailed tutorials using arrows and spotlighting. This requires a lot of development time and focus group testing. If you drop a user in a level and just expect them to figure it out, they will just leave the game. They do not want to use their brain to get into a game, they want to be told what to do and if they enjoy the game they then will be more inclined to think. In Epic part of the creativity was having the user figure out how to pass a level, we had to change this in our Chinese version.
  4. Chinese Payment SDKs – To make money in the Chinese market you will have to integrate with five or six local payment SDKs (2 for China Mobile, 2 for China Unicom, and 1 for China Telecom, then possibly Alipay). Most of these SDKs are in Chinese so you will have to work with a local publisher or developer to integrate it into your game, this means they could need access to your source code.
  5. Giving up 70% of Revenue – While in the rest of the world we are used to receiving 70% of income, in China it’s more likely that you’ll receive 30% due to the need of a publisher. A foreign company cannot sign a contract with the payment system providers, so you will need a publisher to do this for you, which includes a fee. This means they collect the money first and will pay you after the fact, normally quarterly. Receiving payments is a very slow process. A publisher will also help you build a strong reputation in the very competitive market. With over 20 popular App stores relationship building alone is a full-time job.

There is no doubt the most successful games in China have all been from other countries and provide huge revenue opportunities from an untouched audience. However the Chinese gaming market is very competitive with new people entering the market daily. Any successful game company should consider it, but it’s an uphill battle that is constantly changing. If you would like our help with this process please contact us.

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