This article is for small-sized and medium-sized companies who are interested in entering Chinese mobile game market. I hope that my article can help you understand the Chinese market from the perspective of a local developer.
Foreign investors frequently talk about Chinese mobile game market as a place of huge potential for profits, a place full of users who love to spend money to enhance their gaming experience.
I’m working at a medium-sized studio as business specialist. We’ve been in mobile game industry for almost 10 years. We specialise in multiplayer online games using self-developed server engine. Game publishing and handling distribution are never as easy for us as for foreign companies. We need to try our best to work with publishers like Tencent and the major carriers as well.
I’m not saying Tencent is bad. Personally speaking, it is a marvellous success. The penguin dominates every aspect of our life, especially lives of people who were born after 1970. Not surprisingly, we see our grandparents using Wechat (developed by Tencent) now. Who doesn’t want to work with a publisher who holds such high volume of users? That’s why hundreds of thousands of games are in the waiting list for Tencent’s review, not to mention that Tencent also has its own games. If you were a medium-sized or small-sized studio, intent on working with a big name publisher in China, I’d like you to know that you aren’t not good enough just not lucky enough. So here are some advices.
- There is a misconception that Chinese players only like games from famous brands. That’s not all true. Lots of creative casual games are liked by us. I’ve read an article by Aaron Lee here. He stated that, "Chinese market has become the best habitat for those creative, innovative mechanic games.” I totally agree with this statement. My colleague can spend a whole afternoon playing a game by simply just tapping on her iPad. Some local game website editors are willing to recommend these games, voluntarily. It brings organic growth. How to make yourself be discovered? If your Chinese were good enough, then write to them. Or find a Chinese partner who is willing to introduce you.
- Yes, we love to be traditional. But changes are happening, albeit very slowly. Chinese gamers are eager to play something different, something fun. Developers like us are also tired of traditional titles and boring mechanism. So don’t give up. Never say that your game would not be accepted by Chinese gamers. Everything is possible. Think this way: since we have almost 1,400 million people here; even if only 0.5% of these people like your game, then that is already 7 million downloads!
- Other than Peking and Shanghai, there are so many more Chinese cities where lots and lots of young people are playing games as well. But Apple and Samsung devices are not affordable to everyone. How many local Android manufacturers do you know? Making your games applicable for these devices will broaden your audience.
- Find yourself a local partner. Distribution channels have their own tricks. Local developers are only too familiar with them. Be alert, as there is no secret ingredients. Don’t let yourself be tricked. If you heard a certain company is the best, please make sure to check and verify. Local partners can help you with communication and integration of SDK. But most importantly, they know how to identify the quality of distribution channels.
- What make your company successful and keep going in the last ten years? We don’t have considerable sum of money on a epic production. But we have a stable team with brilliant engineers. These characteristics allow us to develop and integrate new techniques in our games, for example our server engine. So most of our titles are online PVP games. And then we work with a globally leading publisher. Why is that? We need its experience and opinion to improve our game’s quality. Most importantly, if we find our games even popular in China, then we only focus on the Chinese market. Maybe it is kind of strategy. Besides, we want the world know that Chinese developers can make worldwide popular games as well.
What type of game company is yours?
- If you are creative, I believe you can make yourself popular everywhere.
- If you have talent but need additional help, find yourself a local partner who has something in common. Tencent is a great company but not suitable for everyone. There are lots of distribution channels waiting for you to discover.
- Learn about Chinese mobile market geographically. Personally speaking, western developers do not know Chinese gamers well. Maybe because of the cultural shock, but it is worth to take a try.
I wish you good luck in China.