Common Issues Game Companies Have When Marketing Games In China

Chinese Gaming Market

Playing mobile games while commuting is common in China

If your company or title is ready to break into a new market, China’s growing gaming industry is certainly amongst the most sought after targets. Before you make that decision though, consider a few common issues game companies have when marketing games in China.

You’ll need to consider the variances in demographic, probable piracy concerns, and fast industry growth. Here are some basics to get you started:

Understand the Chinese Gamer

Current market analysis suggests there are noticeable similarities amongst gamers within the same country. The first step in marketing games to China is to understand the Chinese gamer. What types of games does he/she prefer? What platforms are favorites? And where and when do gamers tend to play?

To answer these questions about the key characteristics of the Chinese gamer, take a look at the inMobi Mobile Gaming Cross-Market Analysis for the 2014 first quarter. This study takes a deeper look at a comparison of American, Chinese, and South Korean markets.

Some of the most important characteristics of the Chinese gamer audiences are noted as:

  • Preference for Role-Play Games (RPG) – Out of a choice of six game types, Chinese gamers on a whole showed a marked interest in RPGs. A whopping 43 percent, in fact, prefer RPGs over social, strategy, SIM, puzzle, or casino games.
  • Playing while commuting – Most residents of China frequent public transit as the primary mode of transportation. As such, gamers in China are 112 percent more likely to play while commuting than even their South Korean neighbors.
  • Mobile games are enjoyed most – Chinese gamers have a preference for mobile games — which makes sense since they are playing while commuting. Additionally, game consoles are illegal in China, although that doesn’t seem to stop their presence entirely.
  • Free equals more play – According to the study, Chinese gamers are less likely than their American counterparts to pay for games. But what they don’t pay for, they make up in downloads. Chinese gamers are apt to download as many as eight news games each month!
Marketing Games In China

Consider the common location games are played before entering a new market

Notable Piracy Problem

In an article from last year, Eric Jou writing for Kotaku interviewed two Chinese game store owners for their take on the piracy issue in China. Part of the services the store offers include hacking game consoles to be able to play pirated games. Surprisingly, the pair prefer that the Chinese government legalize game consoles because they believe their business would improve. The justification is that they would see more sales of legitimate games.

Although developers may individually come down one way or another on piracy of games, the reality is that it exists heavily in the Asian market. Piracy must be considered before choosing to enter the Chinese game market. How will your brand handle counterfeits?

Quick Market Growth

The gaming industry in China is expected to outgrow the USA’s by the end of 2014. China’s mobile gaming sales are jumping quickly, while the USA’s mobile games market is oversaturated and potentially weakening.

More research will be needed before your game brand should make any fast decisions to enter the Chinese market. Although seemingly lucrative, it may not be a good fit for everyone. It’s growing quickly, but is it too quick? Consider contracting a specialized market study to aid in the decision making process. Waiting a few weeks or months could save you from a disaster and even make your impact stronger.

Has your game title or brand recently made break-through in the Chinese market? Share your successes here!

[1st Photo Credit: Terry Ozon]

[2nd Photo Credit: John Seb Barber]