Mobile gamers pay to play in China

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China’s burgeoning app market is the next hot frontier for mobile games, with revenues expected to surpass $1.2 billion by the end of 2013. Driving the trend are the proliferation of smart devices in what is now the world’s largest mobile app market.

China’s infrastructure is supporting the smartphone explosion with expansion of cellular and wi-fi networks. Moreover, local payment options and restructured carrier billing choices have made it easier to charge mobile app users. For you, it means more Chinese users are ditching browser-based and social games for mobile.

Should you deploy your mobile game to China?

China’s current distribution channels, payment methods and social networks are complex and completely different from what you might be used to. You need to understand the landscape to be successful, but first, take the time to find out if opportunity is there for you. Fire up your analytics and look at where your users are coming from. Do you see early adopters from China? That’s a green light to move forward.

How mobile games monetize in China

Many users take advantage of the fierce competition created by more than 200 Android app stores, third party and carrier marketplaces, seeking out only free games. In fact, a recent  China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) report found only 27% willing to pay for mobile games. That narrows your best options for monetization to ad network integration (with a China mobile ad network) and in-app purchases of virtual goods. With both, you’re dependent on long-term engagement for revenue, which can be tough.

CNNIC found 65% of users play a mobile game for two months or less before moving on (nearly 40% in only two weeks).  Here are three palatable steps to increase retention and monetize Chinese mobile gamers:

  1. Make your game easy to learn, engaging to play and tough to master.
  2. Start players off with low-cost, accessible micro-transactions. Then ease them gradually into larger purchases.
  3. Innovate continuously to keep your game fresh (and to stay ahead of copycats).

The path to China for Western mobile game developers

So how do Western app developers reach users in China’s complex, rapidly changing landscape? Proper localization for the app stores, SEO and your app itself are essential. If you’re not a native speaker familiar with the market, find a distribution partner that understands the cultural and economic forces at work in China. Having someone on the ground to help localize your app will ensure that you’re delivering a game that resonates with Chinese players. Hosting your mobile app in China is also crucial for stability.

Yes, Kii does that, too

Need a localization and distribution partner to launch your mobile game? Check out Kii to China, designed to help developers break into the world’s largest app market in less than three weeks. Complete packages start at just $199, and services are also available a la carte.

Have questions? Contact us or comment below.

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Yuan Weigel

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