How do you take a Western MMO and bring it to the Asian market? In this feature
, consultant Tim Allison, who works on titles such as Pirates Of The Burning Sea
for Asia, looks at some of the positives and pitfalls of making your game work for the East.
Before a studio can develop a successful online game for the Asian market, or for any other market for that matter, it is essential for companies to understand how online games have evolved in Asia and what has contributed to their success.
In addition to considering monetization and online distribution, developers also need to account for the differences in expectations with game controls:
"Using the WASD keys as an example of typical Asian game controls. In Asia the gamers want to have their right hand free to answer the mobile phone, smoke or drink while playing. Forcing the use of function keys and complex UI creates a new learning process for players.
What is more important is that it is familiar, particularly if the content is unusual (western). You need the Asian player to enter the game with ease; if you make the controls complex and unfamiliar then acceptance will be that much harder."
While consoles are prevalent in the west, with the exception of Japan, Asia remains a PC-dominated market. Allison argues that consoles won't be successful in Asia, citing governmental controls on electronics distribution and two other significant demographic features:
1. The markets of greater China, South East Asia and India. People generally live in smaller homes (compared against the west) and, in the major cities, within small apartments. Disposable incomes are typically low; most households would see a television as a luxury. Physical space is limited.
Not many households would allow their one TV (if they had one) to be dominated by a console, let alone allow their children to spend their household money the console hardware and games.
2. Socially, look at the wide spread use of internet cafes. These are places where young friends can socialize within a different environment to home. They can enjoy gaming entertainment within a group environment. They can spend money on games without directly being seen by other household members. They can play fantasy games with their friends to provide some escapism.
You can now read the full feature
on localizing an MMO for the western market, which includes the challenges and benefits with bringing a game to the East (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).