Well unless you are a juggernaut like Rovio or Supercell, you are going to find that the Chinese market has many landmines that have destroyed even the strongest developers and sent them home with more questions than answers.
Here are a few of the more obvious issues that you might face as you work your way into the market:
As discussed earlier in the series, Google Play is not available in China yet, but there are over 100 marketplaces in China that cater to every type of game player and app user. This can become a challenge as some are towards MMORPG players, Sports fans, or just everyone. There are 5 major ones I shared on our company’s blog last year, but that doesn’t even touch the surface of the amount to work with.
You can go ahead and place your game with each marketplace one by one and make deals with them all, or find a distribution group that does all the work for you. They usually will have the APIs and are more in tune with the right places to share your work.
With the bad news on Android phones, comes good news for iPhones. Apple iTunes Store is open and available in China. So you won’t have to worry about these issues with your iPhone game after you register it with China’s Ministry of Culture.
Japan developers have always complained about having to localize their games to the American market to make the games fun for the west while the west does virtually nothing to localize to the East. This is very true in China as many companies will do the bare minimum to get their games into the ecosystem. Janxue Li, CEO of Novitilus wrote a great article explaining the issues he sees from an art standpoint.
Other issues include the use of social media in China being completely different than anywhere else. There are three networks you need to study and prepare to add to your game: Tencent’s QQ, WeChat (Weixin in Chinese) and Netease’s Weibo.
All three are the most common social networks in China and have APIs to allow for integration as both Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China. LINE is available, but is miniscule compared to these three.
Red Tape isn’t too big an issue, yet
Another issue for your game is Chinese rules and regulations on mobile games. As discussed earlier, games must be registered with the Ministry of Culture and some games with Mafia-themes, pornography, or against the government might be denied entrance. But there are currently no real restrictions compared to PC and online games have. But understand that China can change a law in a matter of a few months with no prior announcement.
With this uncertainty, it is highly recommended to go through a local publisher who can move you through mountains of red tape that you could face. There are hundreds in China and many have a good eye on other items that need to be localized before sending it out to gamers. One of my favorites is Yoda1 as we worked with them to bring Crossy Road to China.
Before and After of World of Warcraft after fixes were made to suit Chinese officials.
Customer Service is a Must
Support for these games will also be very important as you may never know where they got the game from and the phones in China are very different than in the states. TestBird has been working with Western developers as well as our large list of Chinese developers to bring compatibility issues down for these more complex games through our automated testing of hundreds of phone with a turnaround of 24 hours.
Keep ‘em comin’
Chinese gamers lose interest very fast and so as some games may have weekly rewards, Chinese games are intent on giving away daily rewards as well as more prizes than you would expect to get in an English language game.
Many micro-transactions that were popular in early Chinese games such as dressing your character and other customization are still popular today.