Culturalize Your Games for the Chinese Market

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Few months ago we covered one research from last year, stating that the revenue of the mobile game market in China will rise to $7.4 billion by the end of 2018. However, this figure could become true as early as next year. The latest market research report – 2015 Global Mobile Games Whitebook – published by Beijing-based Global Mobile Game Confederation (GMGC), market research firm Newzoo, and data firm TalkingData, estimates that China’s mobile game revenues will reach $7.7 billion in 2016, surpassing the US with $7.3 billion for the first time.

Total China and US Mobile Revenues

The explosive growth of the mobile game market in China keeps driving increasing amount of developers to eye and compete in that gold mountain. It is always an admirable goal to have numerous gamers enjoy and spend a dime or two on your game, yet any western mobile game developers hoping to succeed in China will need a solid understanding of the insights into Chinese gamers’ preferences and the habits, Chinese culture, and game distribution environment in China.

Following the last article, we will go through several topics of how to get success in China’s mobile game market. Let’s focus on culturalization and why you should do it in today’s blog.

Localization and Culturalization

For any of you who are still taking ‘translation’ as the most important part, it’s time to put a great deal of thoughts on getting clear on the big differences between ‘translation’ and ‘localization’. If you are way past the wrong interchangeable use between ‘translation’ and ‘localization’, you are good yet not great to go. Why not great? We’ll get back to this later.

Translation is the most elementary form when you think about going goble. Simply translating word for word, such as ‘Hello’ to ‘你好’ or ‘Play’ to ‘开始’, gives your gamers a basic info of what the content says.

Localization is a step further. Developers who localize their games to the local gamers understand how to adapt your mobile games to a particular locale. Anyone who has picked up few Chinese characters must understand that with the same writing of a Chinese character, it contains various meanings and the translation of such a character largely depends on the context and preference. While word-for-word translation only solves gamers’ recognition on the components, it’s worth noting that the essence of localization is to convey the same meaning of the original content in a grammatically correct way and in a style that Chinese native speakers would use.

Now if you are working on localizing your games to Chinese locale and language, you are good to go. How to make you great to go? You need culturalization.


As you know, the Asian culture, especially among Chinese people (in a large scale), significantly varies in comparison with the Western. While the use of culturalization is much less common than that of localization, it encompasses localization, including color scheme, sounds, musics, language, etc. For instance, ‘red’ color symbolizes ‘stop’ or ‘warning’ in the western society, but it represents ‘luck’ in the Chinese setting. More specifically, China’s stock market uses ‘red’ as stock gains and ‘green’ as stock losses.

To make things more natural, you probably even need to rewrite the whole dialogue script and record the dialogue voice by hiring a native voice actor if those apply. For better results and monetization, you are suggested to go through the whole code of your game and probably 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.

In general, localization gives you the necessary and essential things of the success of your games. But it’s just the nuances in your games that could make a big difference and enable you to achieve bigger success.

  • PyaeAung@PhDUTU

    Hello, Lingkai. Can I know whether the screenshot of the game (in two cultural themes) is the real game? If yes, can I kindly know where I can get this game? It will be a lot helpful to my current research. Best Regards, Aung