A lot of people might naively think that China and Taiwan are very similar and making a game for Taiwan means easy access to Asia. Though this has been the case in the early 2000s for online PC games and for the past few years for mobile, Taiwan is quite different and may offer problems for the western game developers.
Though the countries are less than 200 km apart from each other, China and Taiwan have very different views on culture, quality and spending. But we’ll talk about spending later.
In Culture, Taiwan has been open to other Asian popular fads and entertainment compared to a more conservative China. The biggest example of this is Japanese art in manga and anime that now have large followings with their own mobile games as well as Korea being one of the first to enter the country with PC online games in the 2000s.
Since Japanese anime and manga were the first high quality entertainment in Asia during the 1900s, it has built quality IP like Mobile Suit Gundam, Inuyasha, and One Piece to be enjoyed across Asia. An example of the use of Japanese art style is one of last year’s popular games Implosion, published by Taiwanese company Rayark
Another big difference is the quality of games in Taiwan. Because less restrictions on gaming were placed in Taiwan compared to China, console, handheld, and other games available in the west and Asia were played by Taiwanese.
With the country focusing on high tech, expectations are much higher for a game in Taiwan than anywhere in Asia. So many Chinese companies have failed poorly in Taiwan as well as Korean and American companies who brought inferior games to the island.
The biggest issue you might face bringing a game is the population of Taiwan. Only having 12 million gamers to fight screen time for is very tough, especially with all of Asia as competition. And with everyone advertising their games everywhere, expect a large budget towards getting a publisher or agents to do the dirty work for you.
Also, Taiwan uses Traditional Chinese lettering compared to China’s Simplified Chinese. So it’s been recommended to use a local localization company for text translation unless you have a native Taiwanese employee at your studio.
Taiwan Game industry
The industry has been growing since the crash of 2008 in America. Since then, they have been selling games popular in both Taiwan and Chinese speaking countries. Though most games are published by Taiwanese companies, most use China for in-house development or vice versa.
Most complaints in the industry is that companies wait too long and miss the wave, or join a bandwagon of the same type of game and lead to complaints. Classic examples of this happening this past year were a plethora of games all based on the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West. Be prepared if your game becomes popular for copycats to attack your market share.
Like China, Taiwan is very big into the RPGs right now. Most big titles are either MMORPGs or Action RPG that seem to be either 3D open-worlds or beat-em-ups like you’d see in Final Fight or Altered Beast. Card collecting games have also found interest with most coming from Chinese developers.
Wuxia games are very popular as martial arts has a major connection to many living in Taiwan. Wuxia pretty much is the Chinese equivalent of the hero story of a martial arts expert using their fists, weapons, magic, inner power, or mystical acupuncture to combat others to win the girl, revenge against loved ones, or save their village/country/world. Most are set in pre-modern China with very deep storylines and are very popular in Books, TV, Movies, and now video games.
Games like Immortal Monster Killer, tested at TestBird for the Chinese market, have blended elements of Wuxia and ARPG to find giant success in Taiwan. Though game developers admit they are going to the well far too much and are tired of the genre. But gamers still want more.
Our next article discusses the monetization of Taiwan, LINE, and the emergence of Twitch for marketing.