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Crouching tiger, from NetEase's success to Chinese game industry

Netease phenomenon is merely the tip of the submerged iceberg. Tons of excellent online games with large amount of DAU (Daily Active Users) and decent retention rate are still caged inside the Chinese market.

Many friends are starting to ask me about the business in China, credit to the successful mobile title of NetEase. However, NetEase phenomenon is merely the tip of the submerged iceberg. Tons of excellent online games with large amount of DAU (Daily Active Users) and decent retention rate are still caged inside the Chinese market. They have to go through three barriers to inhale fresh air of global market: the culture difference, the mist that created by competitors in the gigantic domestic market and the Confucius.

1.    The Culture

The new mobile game of NetEase - Fantasy Westward Journey, dominated the 4th place of Apple store globe leaderboard on Apr 2015 is based on the popularity of its already successful PC MMO title with the same name, which achieved over 2.6 million peak concurrent users in 2010.

But compared with thousands of Chinese culture themed online games that enjoying the bloodbath battle in the domestic market, Fantasy Westward Journey was barely one that reach out faster to the mobile market.

I’m receiving around 10 game publishing requests each day, and most of them are Chinese -masterpiece-themed. I feel bad to turn them down, but the reality is, even the closest nations in SEA (South East Asian) do not accept this kind of games.  I can never forget the words a player told me when I outsourced "Monkey King Online" to the SEA. "I quit right away. I just don't feel like being a monkey." I'm speechless at that time. I don't know how to explain - the monkey is leading role of a masterpiece that loved by billions of Chinese. (Imagine how you can explain Hobbit to a person who has absolutely no knowledge of "Lord of the rings" movie and novel series. And "Journey to the west" is longer than that.)

As you can guess, many games with the same culture background of NetEase - Fantasy Westward Journey are still hidden under the surface. Even if some of them hit a remarkable milestone, they might still remain in silence, covering by the waves of enormous large-scaled Chinese market.

2.    The mist
I’m not going to show the long list of the Chinese culture themed games, because even a particular case can easily reflect it. The battle scene above is from a war simulation game - “Mad Tanks”. Regardless of the sexy anime crews model that represent strong influence of Japanese anime culture, the game is generally designed for global audience, but the developers are still waiting. Even when it reached the 200k DAU milestone in CBT, they’re still waiting, because it’s like nothing in China. Bear in mind, Chinese players’ amount is over 517 million at the end of 2014 with a 4.6% year-on-year increase (data provided by GPC - China association game Committee).Although the rate is declining and tends to be steadier later on, the total amount is still enormous.


3. The Confucius.
“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius.
Conservative is part of the culture rooted deeply in the heart of each Chinese, like the remains of the thousand years history. Chinese always believe work hard in silence and wait for the chance. They make decisions according to what their ancient wise taught them. And when the time comes, when it's finally a perfect time to show off their culture in front of the world, they will make a wise choice - wait more!


Predicting another Chinese title to be spotlight soon on global mobile game market instead of the Fantasy Westward Journey is meaningless. What I want to emphasis is, Chinese culture does require more exposure, requiring more help from international publishing organizations and artists of all nations that work in different fields, such as movie, music, literature, press and others.

The Chinese classical novels would be the most essential part to start with. It's difficult to increase the awareness of Chinese classical masterpieces. Just like the difficulty to introduce Shakespeare’s books to Chinese folks. But there are still many respectful warriors fighting for it. Paving the road of globe market for Chinese games is incredibly hard and painful, but they all know the great potential if they succeeded.

So side by side with me and join in, shall we? I will use some simple explanation to make an approach first –

<Journey to the west> - Featured with various fantastic stories that Monkey King, his fellows and mentor - Buddhist Monk encountered, when they travelled to the "Western Regions". Monkey King performed his amazing magic and skills (including 72 transformations) and killed varied formed monsters, demons and supernatural in order to protect his mentor.


<Romance of three kingdoms> - Featured with the most intriguing military battles, strategies and political scheme in Chinese history, the author had combine all of them ingeniously into a series of stories in a certain time range - the end of the Han dynasty.


<Strange Tales of Liaozhai> - Featured with fascinating romantic ghost stories and all separated in solo pieces. The author spent his whole life gathering the sources among local folks. To achieve this masterpiece, his footprint reached a vast amount of places in China.  


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