PocketGamer.biz top 30 Chinese developers of 2012: 20 to 11
From PearlinPalm to Droidhen
Following three successful years of PocketGamer.biz's western-focused top developer round up, we've turned our attention east.
Created in association with Umeng and CocoaChina, this is our inaugural listing of the top Chinese mobile game developers.
They ranges from globally-known corporations who are aggressively approaching the international mobile gaming market, down to small start ups, who are looking to push the conventions of gameplay mechanics.
Founded in 2003, Beijing-based PearlinPalm is a mobile and web gaming publisher with strong links to Chinese operators, OEMs and distributors.
It backs this up with its own online app store. Its most successful game is mobile/web MMORPG Pearl Heroes, which has 5 million subscribers across all major platforms; Symbian, Android, Windows Phone 7 and iOS.
Its other key game is the online RPG Wulin QL, which has been live for over five years, while its most recent release is mobile online turn-based strategy games Pearl Journey To The West, a version of the classic Chinese story Journey to the West.
Founded by executives from China Mobile, Microsoft and IBM, Wiyun isn't strictly a developer, but it is one of the most important games ecosystem companies in China.
As a one-stop-shop provider of tools and publisher services, Wiyun has links with over 14,000 developers who use its iOS and Android WiEngine for faster 2D game making. The company also offers the WiGame social gaming platform, which has around 30 million users, and the WiAd advertising service.
A separate element of its monetisation options is the WiOffer promotion wall, which incentivise downloads with virtual currency.
18. Tencent Games
Notably for its QQ social platform, Tencent (HKG:0700) is also a force in the online PC gaming space and investing heavily in mobile. One element is its partnership with GREE so both companies' networks share standards, and it's integrated the GameSalad development tool.
With GREE and KDDI, it runs the $100 million A-Fund for Android apps, games and services, and it bought a stake in Epic Games.
Still, it will be interesting to see how Tencent balances its platform business - its Mobile QQ Game Hall has over 200 million users - with its internal mobile games teams in the longterm. One example is its in-development iOS PVP game Realm of Swords, which is designed for western markets.
17. RenRen Games
Renren is one of China's leading social networks. Its services include its eponymous real name network, video sharing site, and gaming. Floated on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE:RENN) in 2011, the company's recent focus has switched to mobile services.
Around 40 percent of its 150 million users access their Renren accounts via mobile devices.
The company also develops its own mobile and online games. It's released over 30 titles in China and the west, with recent examples including Panda & Zombies and Angry King Kong. It's now looking to heavily expand this activity, additionally signing a deal with DeNA to integrate its Mobage network into the Renren Android app.
Founded by ex-Microsoft Games employees in 2010, Beijing-based Astepgames covers online, Flash and mobile games.
Its big hit to-date has been an iOS tower defence game based on the Three Kingdom's theme. Released in February 2011, Three Kingdoms TD - Legend of Shu has only recently dropped out of the Chinese top grossing top 100. At one point, the series - three games have been released - was generating over $200,000 per month in sales.
A version has since been released on iOS via Tencent, and it's coming to Android too. Meanwhile, the game has been successful outside of China, notably in Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan.
Set up in 2011, Tap4Fun is a 40-strong developer based in Chengdu. It gained prominence early in 2012, when it was reported as the top grossing Chinese developer on the Apple App Store during April, with income of $1.1 million.
This success has been built on the back of its free-to-play online kingdom-building and PVP Empire series. King's Empire is the most recent (released in February 2012) game, while Island Empire was released in July 2011.
Galaxy Empire (November 2010) is the company's most successful title, gaining the top grossing #1 spot in 16 countries, including the US, China, Germany, Italy and Indonesia. An Android version has also been released through Korea publisher Gamevil.
14. Happy Elements
Kicking off in 2009 with strong success on Facebook, Beijing-based Happy Elements has since branched out releasing games across many web-based social platforms (Tencent, Renren, Mixi, Daum, Orkut etc) and mobile.
The 300-strong publisher, which has an office in Japan, raised $30 million in October 2011 to fund its global expansion and mobile activities. It also acquired Chinese developers Dragon&Wind and Happy Wind to boost capabilities.
Its most popular social games are My Fishbowl, My Kingdom and Happy Fish. The latter two have been released on iOS, alongside match puzzler Legend Four. It released Pocket Bar in Japan on GREE's platform as well.
Founded in 2004 and focused on mobile and web games since 2005, OurPalm marked its rise by floating on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in May 2012 (SHE:300315). In its early days, this growth was due to working closely with operators such as China Mobile and OEMs such as Nokia and Samsung. It also had a partnership deal with EA Mobile.
Now targetting iOS and Android, as well as still supporting mobile web, the 400-strong company's releases range across genres, including a Genghis Khan-themed MMORPG, soccer management, shooter Mission Sirius, as well as more traditional titles such as Dragon Town and Stone Age.
Children's entertainment outfit Taomee is well known in Asia for its Mole's World and Seer games and virtual worlds, not to mention books, magazines and TV animations. It's getting more involved in free-to-play mobile games and applications too, with over 10 million downloads to-date.
The free-to-play social village-building Mole's World iOS game was a top 10 grossing apps in the Chinese and Hong Kong App Stores, while there have been various spin off games including the Mole Kart series.
Mainly focused on Asian markets, the company has also released some games in the west, including one Seer game, Mole's World and Mole Kart, plus puzzlers Call of Acorn and Skating Season. It's yet to release anything itself on Android, though.
Backed by Sequoia Capital in China, Droidhen is a developer that's primarily focused on free-to-play games on Android.
With over 150 million downloads to-date, it mixes up its own games with publishing for other companies. For example, it's released Haypi's Haypi Kingdom OL and Taomee's Mole Kart on Android.
Its key games, however, are physics puzzlers Shoot the Apple and Take Me Home, and the Defender and Lair Defense series of tower defence games. Many of these have since been released on iOS under the company name Droidhang, but without the success experienced on Google Play.
You can see the Top 30 Chinese Developers list as it's revealed here.
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