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what do you need to know about entering Asian markets? We'll talk about the more pressing problem of KPIs that one should rely on when carrying out a soft-launch in Asia.

Yura Yashunin, Blogger

September 25, 2015

7 Min Read

By 2018, there will be 770 million mobile players in China. By the end of 2015, China will have caught up and possibly surpassed the United States and Japan in terms of mobile game market volume. RPG accounts for ⅕ of all Chinese Top-Grossing.

In Japan, so many people play mobile games “on the go” that the administration of East Japan Railway Company even had to place notes in public locations that forbid using mobile devices while moving. In 2016, F2P games are expected to generate the revenue of over $100 billion.

The smartphone “penetration” level is 73%, which is 16.6% more than in the USA. Yearly mobile game revenue growth in South Korea equals to 33%.

China, Japan and South Korea are the key regions for entering the Asian market, but they are not the only ones. Here is a tidbit of information on Taiwan for you to think about.

The mobile game industry in Taiwan is growing at an average rate of 70% per year, breaking all possible records of profitability. There is a good reason why Wu Wen-Jung from Taipei Computer Association prefers to call it a “snowball effect”. By the end of 2015, the industry is forecasted to have earned more than $474M.

So, what do you need to know about entering Asian markets? We could write about the specific nature of their players, their preferences in graphics, gameplay, local stores and payment services. So much has been told and written on this topic that we see no good in bringing up this subject again, instead we'll talk about the more pressing problem of KPIs that one should rely on when carrying out a soft-launch in Asia.

Let us take a closer look at China as it is the largest country in the Asian region

The Chinese Internet population amounts to 668,110,314 people, which is the largest population worldwide. This is one tasty morsel for developers and marketing specialists; however it is reliably protected by the famous Chinese wall. The Chinese market is as closed as it is possible to be; and the Android market is fully fragmented. Billings and piracy thrive on the fertile ground of the Chinese user market. It is almost impossible to find any transparent sources of traffic there. Besides, in order to launch a successful online campaign you need to have offline support.

For a successful release in China, you should use App Store and, at least, TOP-20 local Android-stores:

  • 360 Mobile Assistant – over 400 million users — its market share is 27%.

  • Myapp — over 64 million installs per day — its market share is 26%.

  • Baidu Mobile Assistant — the store of the main search system in China — its market share is 18%.

  • MIUI app store — over 30 million users — its market share is 14%.

  • HiMarket — a unique mix of a platform for developers and an app store — its market share is 9%.

  • SnapPea — over 300 million users — its market share is 8%.

  • 91 mobile assistant — over 10 million users — its market share is 6%.

  • Anzhi Market — over 1,5К new apps every day — its market share is 6%.

  • and so on.

The mobile game preferences of the Chinese players differ from the preferences of their Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

TOP-5 most popular mobile game genres in China:

  1. Races (according to the data provided by AppLift).

  2. Strategies.

  3. RPG.

  4. Card games.

  5. Brain Training.

Facebook and Twitter are blocked by a firewall; WeChat and Weibo are the two most popular social networks among the Chinese users as well as other Asian users.

The average ARPPU is very high and amounts to about $23,5/month! Given that the English language penetration rate is very low among the Chinese population, it is imperative that your game should be localized into Simplified Сhinese. The time it takes the product to fully enter the Chinese market is not less than 8 months. We strongly recommend searching for a partner or a publisher in this region.

The following table provides some key indicators for a launch in China.

Pay attention to the following metrics: Login Times Per User Per Day and Use Time Per Login. In the RU-market, it is not common to measure performance indicators using these metrics, let alone include them into KPIs. The Chinese, on the other hand, widely use them to measure the performance of their campaigns.

Japan has the third largest Internet population in the world closely following the USA and China. It is an open market traditionally dominated by Google Play and App Store. Unlike the Chinese market, it does not need a large amount of billings. About 15% of all titles are foreign ones; however, the English language penetration rate is still low among the Japanese population.

The Japanese people rank first in terms of the average ARPPU that amounts to over $50/month. The characteristic feature of the Japanese players is their gambling nature reflected in their passion for relatively harmless mechanics such as gacha, in-game events, «Fortune’s wheels» etc.

TOP-5 most popular mobile game genres in Japan:

  • RPG.

  • Puzzles.

  • Simulations.

  • Action.

  • Card games (except for poker).

To enter the market localization is mandatory.

South Korea has the second largest smartphone penetration rate (over 73% of players, or more than 24 million people of the 50-million population). At that, the CPI rate is still very high there as compared to ARPPU ($5.27).

Favorite games of the Koreans:

• Puzzles

• Races

• Simulations

• Action

• Strategies

This is an open market dominated by App Store and Google Play, where the latter is clearly winning. 85% of South Korean users prefer Android. Of all the titles proposed, only 10% of games are foreign ones, which is why localization is necessary for this market. The weakest point of South Korean players is virality. All popular games there are published on platforms such as Kakao, Line or other messengers.

93% of smartphones in South Korea have KakaoTalk installed. 9 of 10 TOP-Grossing applications are published on the Kakao platform. Always consider this fact when planning your release in this region.

Tip: start a pre-launch campaign with early registration and thus create buzz around the launch of your game. Due to the popularity of messengers, marketing buzz has become such a powerful tool in South Korea that it will literally do half of your job for you. Provided of course that your product is worth the attention. Thus, an aggressive burst-campaign with your product’s getting to the TOP in 3-5 days will leave a long tail of organics.

There are four different ways to organize your UA campaign in Asia. It is up to you to choose the way that fits the needs of your game best.

The most pain-free way is to work with an media buying agency. You need not spend money on hiring the personnel; all the conversion risks are placed on the agency; the reaction is fast and effective; shared-teams work smoothly; campaigns are switched on/off at your first call. Besides, if you choose well, you get to work with professionals, who have the required experience of working in particular markets with particular genres; who can provide you with constant optimization and/or creatives production, and sometimes, ASO and localization. What a perfect partnership!

 

Where to get quality installs in Asia?

  • Search systems (Adwords, Bing, Yahoo, Naver, DAUM, Yahoo Japan, Baidoo).

  • Social networks (FB, TW, POF, QQ, Line, Weibo, WeChat, Kakao).

  • Display ads (AD DN and others).

  • Redirects / popunders / clickunders / teasers.

  • Video (torrents, YouTube etc.).

  • Motivated installs.

  • Local networks (Zucks, Matomy, Line, AdPopcorn, etc.).

  • Global networks (appia, inmobi, etc.), RTB & DSP (smaato, appflood), direct publishers.

You need to carefully consider your KPIs, media-plan, installs plan for boost- or burst-campaigns at the launch stage.

The source of the table: http://www.spellgun.com/blog/2014/10/22/china-mobile-games-august-benchmark-metrics

This post was originally published at Zenna blog: http://zennaapps.com/blog/mobile-games-user-acquisition-in-asia

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