10 app stores now have the distribution power, reckons Glu Mobile

Riding the year of the horse

10 app stores now have the distribution power, reckons Glu Mobile

It's already the fastest growing, most competitive, most fragmented and fastest changing mobile game market in the world.

But what will the year of the horse bring to the Chinese mobile game industry?

We've been asking some of the key players to give us their views on how the next 12 months will play out.

Chris Akhavan is president of publishing at Glu Mobile, which has had a development studio in China since 2007 and counts the territory as its second largest market by revenue.

Pocket Gamer: what were the key trends in the Chinese mobile games market last year?

Chris Akhavan: We saw significant growth in the Chinese market during 2013.

Some of the key trends we observed:

  • Tencent's WeChat launching a games platform has clearly had a major impact on the Chinese mobile games ecosystem
  • We are seeing consolidation in the China Android ecosystem, with about 10 stores now holding a majority of the distribution power
  • With the overall growth of the mobile gaming market in China, we're beginning to see more Western developers interested in entering the market. In some cases, we're seeing Western developers localize games for the China market well beyond simple language localization

Do you think app distribution will improve significantly in 2014?

App distribution is going to become more challenging for most developers as the market in China consolidates.

With the recent and ongoing consolidation, we'll see some channels drop out of the race. I expect the mobile games ecosystem will soon look a lot like the F2P web games ecosystem in China, with a small group of massive players controlling the majority of distribution.

What do you think will be the impact of WeChat?

Over the coming year, I expect to see WeChat become almost as dominant in China as Kakao is in Korea, particularly within the casual games category. It will be interesting to see how much WeChat moves into more hardcore genres like ARPGs.

Are you worried that the market will become even more competitive as more western games are released in China?

I'm not worried about other Western developers. I think the primary source of competition will continue to come from top Chinese developers who currently dominate the market. They are creating engaging and culturally-relevant content.

Western games will continue to be released in China, but localization and true culturalization will continue to be a challenge for most foreign developers.

How important will Asia be for Glu in 2014?

International markets are a huge priority for us. Asia in particular makes up a significant percentage of our revenue.

We look forward to continued opportunities in the region as a result of developments like iPhones being made available through China Mobile, our increased localization efforts across all markets, strategic relationships like the one we recently announced with Colopl in Japan, and our substantially upgraded user acquisition capabilities.

What's your biggest hope for next year?

My hope for Glu's international business is to continue increasing the quality of our localization efforts and improving our ability to deliver high quality, relevant content for gamers. I also hope to continue expanding relationships with key players across Asia to increase distribution of Glu's titles.

Lastly, I hope we'll be able to successfully rollout our new games-as-a-service platform across all markets in all of our upcoming titles. As we continue to refine feature sets, we hope to deliver a more complete and robust player experience tailored to every international audience.

As far as the industry goes, I'm looking forward to checking out the next wave of top tier F2P games that are currently in development across the industry. I've heard of a number of major players working on some pretty massive games with unprecedented mobile game budgets. Should be fun times ahead for the industry and gamers alike.

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.