What You Need to Know to Monetize a Game in China

Pile of Chinese Yuan

15 Oct What You Need to Know to Monetize a Game in China

You’ve probably heard some rumors about the Chinese mobile game market.  You might have heard of its massive growth or its love for new content.  You may have also heard that China is a free-to-play paradise. But do you know what other spending behaviors are common? Let us take you through some of the basics of how to monetize a game in China.


China is regarded as a leader in F2P, largely unwilling to pay for games. This all started with the famous Chinese console ban. With no consoles, gamers turned to online games, filling up Internet cafes. So instead of paying $26 for new content, Chinese gamers grew up expecting to find their games on the Internet, for free. Furthermore, with rampant piracy, gamers can just find a free version of the game they want to play on one of China’s many app stores.

However, China’s online history isn’t bad news for developers. Since China developed so quickly, most people don’t own personal computers but instead access the Internet from their mobile devices or cafes. This mobile-first environment means that consumers are more willing to spend on mobile devices than in other countries (Remember the giant Alibaba IPO? That was largely thanks to mobile).

Proof of this payment ease? 29% of Chinese mobile gamers don’t remember the reason they made an in-app purchase. When playing puzzle games, this number jumps to 34%. Compare this to 11% in the United States.  There is a massive opportunity to monetize a game in China because mobile users are comfortable spending on their phones, if approached correctly.


One of the biggest influencers of Chinese gamers’ buying behaviors? They just want to win. Here are a few tips for monetizing these competitive but challenge-adverse players:

-Keep it easy at first. Chinese gamers don’t like too difficult games and will quit if it is too hard

-Offer pay to win. Chinese players aren’t afraid to beat levels- it’s the second most popular IAP behind “don’t remember”

-Include revive instant-revive functions, like we did with the snowball in Skiing Fred

-Offer VIP packs- they’ll pay for them

-Utilize the gacha mechanism, a random luck drawing for new prizes and weapons that boost gameplay


Oniix’s teams added a instant-revive snowball IAP to Skiing Fred


If correctly incentivized, Chinese gamers are willing to pay in. However, in return for their purchases, they expect excellent customer service. You should have local customer service available, be it online chat, a WeChat account, or over the phone. This goes double for whales, or high-spending players. Chinese companies use all sorts of tactics to keep big payers happy.


Last year, Monument Valley, a top paid game of 2014, made waves when they announced their revenue numbers and China iOS accounted for 12% of their global revenue.  With stunning visuals, unique gameplay, and universality, it was appealing enough for gamers to open their wallets for a pay-to-play game. Our China office told us that Chinese gamers chose to

purchase the official version rather than download pirated versions because they wanted to support the studio that made such a beautiful game.

There is an exception to every rule, and Monument Valley is the exception to China’s F2P rule. Unless your game is as exceptional and acclaimed as Monument Valley, it’s best to make a game free to play in China. Keep these tips in mind when looking to monetize a game in China and you will have 360 million potential customers excited to pay for your F2P game.

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