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Chart of the Week: They're lucrative but how open are Korea, China and Japan to western content?

You need to think local
Chart of the Week: They're lucrative but how open are Korea, China and Japan to western content?

Recently Distimo released a report about the growing power of the Asia app and game market.

One element is worth discussing in more detail.

But first some context.

Asia is dominated by three markets; Japan, South Korea and China.

Japan is the largest in terms of sales, but South Korea was the fastest growing market in 2013.

China is harder to quantify as the majority of its sales come through fragmented local Android distribution channels that can't be neatly estimated as with the Apple App Store and Google Play. But it's big and growing fast.

Android rules

Android is the most important OS in the region, accounting for the majority of sales in the top four territories - that's including Taiwan.

This can be easily seen in the following map, which shows Google Play's market share in blue.

Again, China is the outlier is there's effectively no Google Play store available in the country and no-one can yet estimate the scale of the local Android market.

So far, so good. But what's the opportunity for western developers to get into these countries, which now account for 41 percent of the global app and game market?

Local app store for local consumers

The answer is it's very difficult.

Sure, the likes of Supercell, King and Rovio have done very well, but these are not your common-or-garden western developers and publishers and they're not releasing your typical western games.

In fact, the Korean, Chinese and Japanese app markets are all dominated by content from local companies.

As demonstrated in the following table, the 60-70 percent market share of Japanese companies in the top 300 titles on the Japanese app stores compares with a mere 25-32 percent in the US.

That's why so many developers work with local publishers if they want to get their games successfully released in such territories.