The Chinese mobile market is booming, but it's also fragmented and full of competition.
That's why some of the most forward-thinking studios are focusing on international markets.
One such is Beijing-based startup VOLV Interactive.
It's now onto its third strategy game based on the European settings of WWII. An interesting choice for a Chinese studio, so we contacted marketing manager Jack He to find out more.
Pocket Gamer: Can you give us some background on VOLV Interactive - how you formed and what sort of games you make?
Jack He: VOLV Interactive is an indie studio based in Beijing, China. We are a team of 15 developers united in our love for strategy and simulation games.
It all began in 2011, when Leon Tian (VOLV's founder) left a comfortable job at IBM to pursue his lifelong dream - to start a game studio.
With minimal funds, Leon initially decided to go it alone... but his passion and determination paid off after quickly raising a first round of funding. Gradually, other young programmers, artists, and designers who share the same dream joined the newborn studio.
What was the inspiration behind Warfare Nations? Why did you choose the setting of the European part of WWII?
After founding VOLV, we developed Black Operations - a simple WWII-themed game with a touch of humor.
As time went by, we realized that we were capable of making games that deal with challenging topics in a humorous way, so our next release was Call of Victory, which took a more light-hearted approach.
After making several improvements to the engine, we decided to leverage them to create our newest release, Warfare Nations.
There are lots of action strategy games in the App Store at the moment, so why do you think Warfare Nations will stand out?
We believe Warfare Nations is the kind of game that mobile players crave. It also helps that we have a really polished control system coupled with cartoon-like animation and sound effects.
Who doesn't like fighting in make-believe wars?
Did you think about working with a publisher to release this game in the west?
Yes, we did consider this option, but we weren't quite prepared for this step! We might do this in the future, once we're better known by western players.
The game's been out on Google Play for six months and now is also out on the Apple App Store and Amazon Appstore, so what's been the players' reaction?
The game was only out on Google Play for one month before it was released on the App Store. It has performed quite well so far, especially in the Russian market.
Warfare Nations has received more than 3,100 reviews.
What are your plans in terms of updates?
We're planning to update the game in order to maintain retention - but we'll see how it performs in the App Store first!
The Chinese mobile market is growing very quickly so why are you releasing your games in the US and Europe?
There are no boundaries in the game industry. It's not a good idea to be isolated from overseas markets. In our eyes, developers should focus on the global marketplace.
Western countries are still the main source of income, but the rise of developing countries cannot be ignored.
Will you be releasing Warfare Nations in China or other Asian markets?
We are actually considering it. Stay tuned!
What do you think are the key differences between China and Western mobile gamer?
The key difference between China and Western mobile gamers is their playing habits.
In China, the download numbers are quite large, but not everyone is willing to pay. For this reason, quite a large number of players only play games that are free-to-play.
Our biggest challenge is fierce competition.
Western players are more used to paying for their games, even if they only spend 99 cents.
As a Chinese mobile game developer, what are the biggest challenges you face?
Our biggest challenge is fierce competition. There are many developers trying to squeeze into the industry - dreaming of large profits. But the reality is rather cruel. Without excellent projects and opportunities, we may drown in a flood of apps.
Consider Flappy Bird, which is really just a game about a stupid bird trying to avoid a series of vertical pipes. You could easily think it would never go anywhere or generate any income, but things evolved quite differently once it went viral - thanks to a relatively small number of gamers.
What's next for VOLV Interactive?
We have several new projects on the horizon, and we're sure players will be pleasantly surprised. For now, we need to keep those announcements close to the chest - but we'll be sure to keep you updated.
Thanks to Jack for his time.