Eyeing on China’s Mobile Game Market? Get Ready

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Game Development Conference 2015 has come to an end. What’s next? Probably you are waiting for Apple’s WWDC and Google I/O in the summer time or expecting more eye-catching stuff and breaking news at GDC Europe in August. While these events are always worth attending, GDC China in Oct. this year is another event that you should mark in your calendar.

Research shows that in 2014 the revenue of the mobile game market in China expanded to $2.9 billion and will soar to $7.4 billion by the end of 2018. I believe that some of you have been putting an eye on the most populous country for a while, and have contemplated the move of taking your games to this lucrative market this year or early next year.

Mobile Game Market in China

Mobile Game Market in China
Image Credit: Niko Partners

But what’s your go-to-China strategy? Have you investigated the market well enough? Are you prepared to give it a go?

Surely, taking games to China is tough, but you need clear minds and market intelligence to get it through. Here we have shared a piece of our insights on the complicated Chinese mobile market. Below are the three major aspects or difficulties that you should overcome when you are converting your existing game to a Chinese version.

Numerous Android Markets – Payment Modules

While Apple’s App Store is the standard and only place for iOS gamers like all around the world, Android ecosystem in China is totally a different story. Unlike its dominance in most markets, Google Play is a minor player among hundreds of third party app stores in China. If you are serious about Chinese market, you should definitely upload your games to at least the top 20 stores for acquiring millions of downloads.

Top 20 Android App Markets in China

Top 20 Android App Markets in China
Image Credit: AppInChina

Before uploading, you’d better do enough investigation on each app store – app uploading, identification, censorship and of course, the payment module. For your success, it’s vital to make sure that the payment connection of your game and the app store is well tested, which might require somewhat tweaks to the coding of your games. In this case, leveraging proper frameworks like Appium surely could benefit you with cross-platform testing on real Android and iOS devices simultaneously.

Localization – Habits and Gameplay

You might be thinking translation. While the first touch of localization is the language and locale, you need to put a great deal of thoughts on the habits, favorites and gameplay of Chinese gamers. For example, Chinese users normally stick to a game more than Western counterparts within a short time period. But they are also early quitters in front of difficulties in games. By knowing these, you should appropriately adjust the gameplay and game progress to better engage with your Chinese gamers – No easy-to-pass, no early big challenges.

In addition to game content and design, resizing your games is another task you need to focus. In general, Chinese gamers prefer small-sized games due to many possible reasons including insufficient memory storage, no long-wait on downloading or another. One of them worth-noting is that many Chinese gamers choose to update/download games through data plan while they are on the go. In consideration that data plan in China is relatively expensive and slow compared to that in other countries, gamers who want to plunge into a new/updated game hate to spend much data on downloading or updating.

For the sake of better results and monetization, you probably need to re-script your games, test them in a systematic way (CPU, memory, FPS, etc.) and have your Chinese colleague play them thoroughly to make sure it adapts to Chinese gamers.

More Devices – Local Major OEMs

While targeting mainly Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola devices in Western countries might give you a 70%-80% of the coverage, it actually could be only 30%-40% in China. Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo are strong OEM market players without any question, but there are a lot more brands shipping new devices to users every quarter.

When you take your games to China, you are facing different chipsets, screen sizes, memories, native Android OS versions, and customized UI and ROM/firmware. In China almost every major smartphone OEM has its branded and customized ROM/firmware with unique UI, like MIUI from Xiaomi, Color OS from OPPO, Flyme from Meizu, Smartisan OS from Smartisan, etc. All of these make the fragmentation even more critical in China.

For success in China, device compatibility can’t be emphasized any more. It’s really prominent to test games on the most popular Chinese handsets if not every unique device. More than that, do never think of manually testing them one by one, as that doesn’t bring you the scalability and value. Relying on an advanced testing service with support of various test frameworks and provision of both Western and Chinese devices, like Testdroid Cloud, will save you lots of time and efforts, and enable you publish and monetize your game faster.

Wrapping Up

‘Nowhere is more enticing than China, and nowhere is more difficult to figure out.’ said Paul Murphy, in an interview with Bloomberg Business. It precisely describes the situation regarding mobile game markets in China. If you have a mindset of China strategy, you should better spend some quality time investigating the country, hiring some powerful local publishers, rethinking and re-scripting your games and testing them in a non-compromise way.

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