Updated 8:47 AM EST, Fri, Mar 05, 2021

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How Can Western Game Developers Enter China?

The Chinese games industry is thriving. According to market research firm EEDAR, there are more gamers in China than there are citizens of the United States. There are 1.6 Chinese gamers for each American citizen (517 million vs. 317 million) the firm found, adding that 28% of players play more than an hour per day, while 147 million are core gamers.

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With this in mind, more Western developers are considering entering this lucrative region in order to maximize their revenues. But entering China isn't so straightforward and there are factors to consider before making plans.

How to Appeal to Free to Play Gamers

Free to play games make up the bulk of gaming revenue in China. The country's games sector is expected to make $42 billion in revenue by 2022, thanks to the popularity of freemium games like MOBA League of Legends, brawler RPG Dungeon Fighter Online, and first-person shooter CrossFire. 

It's clear that free to play is the way to go when releasing games in the region, but how can western companies can compete? Canadian website proffers that free spins and bonuses may be a solid way for developers to draw Chinese gamers in. Many Canadian casinos encourage players to sign up by offering no-deposit bonuses and free spins, allowing them to play slots like Mega Moolah and ThunderStruck before putting down any money. With there being so much competition in China's F2P scene, offering added incentives may be the way to go.

Why Localization is So Important


When people think localization, they typically think of basic translation, ensuring that a game makes sense in that country's main, spoken language. But in China, things are a little more complex. Western developers must understand that specific actions need to be taken in order to make their games appeal to this foreign market.

Chinese gaming juggernaut Tencent understands this well, having just launched its Steam rival, WeGame. Although PC gaming platform Steam has about 25% Chinese users, WeGame is hoping to gain a foothold by offering greater social and gaming features in a way that isn't restricted (as Steam partly is). It also allows Tencent to bring some of the world's most popular games to the Chinese market (e.g Fortnite and Monster Hunter World) - this understanding of the Chinese market has helped the company succeed.

What Game Genres are Big in China?

Another key to success in China is to understand what game genres are big in the region. While there are some surefire hits with big-name branding, launching a new and relatively unknown title in China (and making it a success) requires careful understanding of what Chinese gamers want.

For example, some of the most popular game genres include casual games (18% of the market), RPGs (9%), chess and poker (17%), and match games (13%). So, western developers will want to heavily consider these when choosing a game to release in China.

Making an impact in China isn't easy; most western developers realize this. But ambitious companies needn't make it any harder for themselves, either. Hopefully, by considering the above factors, more will be able to make a more measured approach to their China plans.

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