How to Successfully Publish a Mobile Game in China

Monetization changes to Toy Defense 3 in China

01 Jun How to Successfully Publish a Mobile Game in China

Many developers want to publish their mobile games in China, a market ripe with opportunity.  But how do you successfully do this? We could write a 253-page novel about what it takes to create a hit in China. But to save you some time, we’ve simplified and broken down the process below:

Research

First, you need to decide if your game is a fit for the Chinese market. Some things to consider: Is the plot centered on Western themes (e.g. Kim Kardashian)? Is the file size low enough to download over China’s 2G/3G networks?

Localize

Chinese consumers don’t want simply translated games, but something that appears made for China.  A great example of culturalization is QuizUp, which traded in its minimalist design for a bright, cartoon-heavy layout and shot to the top of China’s charts. Read an in-depth post on localization here. 

Monetize

Nearly every game on the Chinese market is free-to-play, as players are unwilling to pay upfront.  This can mean completely re-designing monetization systems to suit the market, such as including the popular gacha lottery.

Integrate and Distribute

Since Google Play doesn’t work in China, integration and distribution aren’t nearly as easy as in Western markets.  As there are hundreds of Chinese app stores, a game must be published on dozens of stores to cover the market.   Different integrations are required for each app store, including specific billing systems and analytic services.

Promote

Chinese consumers heavily depend upon recommendations from friends and family, so if a game earns enough key users, it can spread like wildfire.  Promotions often include tournaments (we recently hosted a tournament with the grand prize of a trip to South Korea), giveaways, and articles across gaming sites, as well as featured placements on dozens of app stores.

Tap Titans Gacha Lottery

A Gacha Lottery in Tap Titans

Collect

Only Chinese entities can collect revenue, so you must either set up a Chinese office or enlist the help of a local partner.  When Clash of Clans first launched in China, it couldn’t make a cent despite over 600,000 downloads because it was relying on Google Play for monetization! 

Manage

Any successful game requires content updates, as well as customer service, to keep players happy and engaged.  Chinese gamers aren’t afraid to leave scathing reviews so reliable service is key to preventing a low rating.

Launching a game in China is a challenging task. However, with a dedicated team that has the right experience, be it a Chinese branch of your studio or a partner like Oniix, success in this fragmented but incredibly lucrative market can become a reality.

Download 9 questions to ask about publishing a mobile game in China
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