BLOG – Why do western games get hacked in China?

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My name is Jihua Liu and as one of the co-founders of UxVibe, we have a business model that places us in a unique position to help developers market their games and software to the Chinese market. In other words we provide them with the tools required to breach the seemingly impenetrable Chinese wall.
One of the challenges faced and a question that always arises in my meetings and dealings with developers is the issue of piracy and hacking – Why do western games get hacked in China?

This happens for a variety of reasons, but I’d place content or more accurately the lack of content as a primary reason.

You see Chinese app stores are crying out for content, but few western game developers seem unable to or equipped to scale the symbolic great wall.

This poses a problem for digital retail outlets since they are unable to gain publishing rights, which in turn forces their hands and has them resorting to questionable alternatives such as choosing to publish the cracked versions.

With more than 20 App stores and 200 game marketing portals, a game needs to be integrated with at least a third of them to get enough exposure. Negotiating and integrating with them is nearly an impossible job for a Western small studio.

Chinese appstore

Another possible rational is the convoluted payment system in China. On Android the player has multiple payment options. Credit card is the most common way to pay in the west, whilst in China, the opposite rings true. Many of the smartphone holders might not even have a credit card today. Chinese players love to use SMS payment. However each operator has their own SMS payment system, so as a game developer you need to be willing to integrate them all or at the least appreciate the benefits of working with them all. It’s a grueling task!

With such a myriad of red tape and complexity why should we care about the Chinese market? I’m unquestionably preaching to the choir here, but it’s worth reiterating. China is the second largest games market in the world! With a quality game, contacts and right channels it is fairly easily to gain 6-10 million downloads.

Furthermore, it’s because of this complexity, which contributes to a dearth of content that makes the allure of cracking the Chinese market irresistible. So for a small mobile game developer, we still see a great opportunity to make a big buck!

Tips for developers looking to tackle the Chinese market

  • Don’t waste time wish self-publishing. Get yourself a publisher right away!
  • Change your mindset! Move from lamenting over piracy and having your game cracked to embracing the free marketing hacking comes with. Your game is now hugely popular. Ride that wave!
  • The largest paying audience owns an Android phone, which costs roughly $150 as opposed to the $600 high end phones. So don’t make your game too heavy.
  • Translation of your game into Chinese is a must since most are not fluent in English.
  • Many western game studios start by localizing their graphics into Chinese theme with dragons and Great Wall etc. However, that isn’t a necessary step to enter the market. Yes, the Chinese do appreciate the familiar, but they also like western theme. For example, Temple run and Plants vs. Zombies did brilliantly on the market without localizing the graphics. My suggestion is don’t start with changing graphics in your game into China. You can always launch a sequel with a Chinese edition when your game has done enough to warrant it.

If you’d like to learn more about the mobile games market in China as well as how to launch your mobile game there, get in touch with me.

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