It's no secret that for international publishers, releasing a game in China can be a big challenge.
It’s a lucrative market for those that can successfully launch a title in the country. The aim doesn’t need to be to top the charts either, a tough proposition given the major players like Tencent, NetEase and Happy Elements in the country.
Being lower down the rankings on the major app stores can still represent good value, depending on your objectives, and there are a plethora of stores and audiences to get your game in front of.
But developers need to be aware of exactly what hurdles await and the lengthy process it takes to overcome them.
In Mobvista and GameAnalytics’ ‘Looking East: How to launch mobile games in China 2018’ report, it’s noted that among the top 20 best-selling list on China’s App Store, 55 per cent of all apps have been released for more than a year, while 25 per cent came to market during the last six months.
In a survey of representatives from 400 Western companies, 66.7 per cent of publishers said launching a game in China was harder than expected. 16.7 per cent said the experience was as expected, while another 16.7 per cent claimed it was easier than expected
The toughest challenges of publishing in China were said to be regulation compliance (66.7 per cent) - developers must ensure their games aren’t overtly violent, for example - and localising the game sufficiently (66.7 per cent).
Other key challenges were language barriers (50 per cent) and gaining governmental approval (50 per cent) - the latter a requirement to launch in the country.
Eight tips for success
To help Western developers and publishers prepare for publishing in the Chinese market, Mobvista has put together eight tips for success.
- Although Android is the most popular platform in China, there is no Google Play store. Instead, there are more than 200 Android app stores, which makes Android games a bit more complicated to publish than iOS. However, it’s still possible to launch hit Android games, as long as you work with a good local publisher.
- Don’t underestimate the complexities of launching your game in China. Although China has become the biggest market for games in the world, it poses some unique challenges too. Mobvista’s survey found that 66 per cent of mobile game companies found launching in China harder than they expected.
- If you are launching your game on iOS, it’s possible to get around a lot of the rules and regulations that Android games have to go through. If you are launching an Android app, you are required to publish through a Chinese-registered company.
- All mobile games must be registered and approved by SAPPRFT (the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of The People's Republic of China). This can take several weeks or more. However, if you are an overseas company, you can launch your iOS game without going through this process.
- Localising your game correctly is essential. Think about everything, from the game name, UI and colours to the art style. Good localisation is far more than just what language your game is in.
- Companies like Baidu, Tencent and Weibo have apps and services that are used by hundreds of millions of people in China every day. Launching your game will almost certainly involve working with them on your marketing and advertising strategy.
- Social media influencers are a vital marketing channel in China. Influencers are big business - with millions of loyal followers they can promote your game to.
- Compared to mobile gamers from the rest of the world, Chinese gamers play more games, less often, but when they decide to spend money they spend as much if not more than gamers anywhere else.
For more information on successfully publishing your game in China, check out Mobvista and GameAnalytics’ ‘Looking East: How to launch mobile games in China 2018’ report here.
The report covers the makeup of the China market, how to enter it, marketing, monetisation, measuring performance, as well as insights into Chinese player behaviour.