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China's mobile game developers look for best markets

Michael Kan | July 11, 2012
Although based in China and a maker of hit games, app developer Haypi has largely ignored its home market.

Surprisingly, the company feels more comfortable developing games for Western markets, given that its developers enjoy playing English-language titles such as World of Warcraft and console-based videogames. But to better localize the games for foreign users, Haypi has hired staff in the U.S. and Europe to do English translations for the game and to create the product art design.

Other app developers, however, are finding more success in China than they did overseas. RedAtoms previously designed English PC and social networking games including "City of Wonder", available on Facebook and for Apple's iOS.

While the game performed satisfactorily, it struggled to maintain a high ranking, said RedAtoms vice president Andrew Chang said. The game also wasn't received as well in the China. "Chinese people are not as enthusiastic about city building games," he said.

Last year, the company decided to switch gears and focus on the Chinese market, given the growth in smartphone use and the lack of engaging apps. The results have been promising, with the company producing three hit Chinese games for Apple's iOS.

"A lot of Chinese companies wanted to go overseas. But they found it was hard to make money and realized it would not be easy," Chang said. "The founders, or co-founders of these companies could not speak English or Japanese, and it was very difficult for them to compete with the local publishers."

Although Chinese users are less prone to buying apps, RedAtoms has found success in using a "freemium" model to generate revenue out of the country's gamers. This works by making the product free, but adding virtual currency or other in-game features that can be purchased by the players for a price. The model works especially well for the company's "Three Kingdoms Now" game, an online role-playing title set in a historic period popular in the country.

Chukong, also known as Punchbox, is another Chinese app developer, which has enjoyed some success overseas. The company was the maker of Fishing Joy, a casual app game that at various points has been a top downloaded game on Apple's App Store.

The success of the game was very unexpected, said Chen Haozhi, CEO of Chukong. "We felt the game's quality was high. It also didn't seem like the game was made by a Chinese group," he said, when asked about why the game succeeded.

 

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