Lots of attention is given to helping Western developers launch their games in China. Virtually every gaming conference will feature at least one talk on the topic. Yet, there is little focus the other way round. This is largely because Chinese developers will often use a Western publisher. For the few that decide to self-publish, they will often seek the help of an agency partner.
Over the past few years, we’ve worked with several Chinese game developers wanting to launch their games in the West. As specialists in gaming PR and marketing, this means we often see developers making the same common mistakes, time and time again.
If you’re a Chinese developer, a publisher or even PR who has never worked with Chinese game developers before, here are six core areas we think deserve your attention. If you’re not a Chinese developer, then many of these tips will still likely apply to you.
No one knows better than Omer Kaplan that Asia is now surpassing the West as today’s mobile epicenter. Omer is CMO and co-founder of ironSource and brings to his work experience in media buying for clients that include mobile publishers, game developers, retailers and major global brands. Omer was director of media at AfterDownload when it was acquired by ironSource in 2013 and uses this extensive experience to mentor early stage startups.
In Omer’s session at Casual Connect Tel Aviv, How is Asia Changing the Mobile Landscape?, Omer delved deeply into Asia’s growing global position and how that will influence advertisers and publishers in the future. As the mobile ecology evolves it is essential to shift focus and learn the best practices to take advantage of the changes. As he described, “Even if you are thinking you are localizing the product and you’re thinking you have the right people and you’ve translated everything, you need to be a ‘China-In’ or have the right Chinese partner to understand how to really reach and connect with Chinese users.”
To learn more about how to adopt the best practices for this market, be sure to watch the complete video of Omer’s session below.
No Google - no payments. How do you buy an app, how do you make money? - Shlomo FreundClick To Tweet
Shlomo Freund is the founder of AppInChina. They work on the company’s general strategy and marketing focus, in addition to general product management. Shlomo’s favorite thing about the job is the constant challenge it presents.
“What’s the latest change in the market? How do we sell better? What else can we offer our clients to launch them to the next level?” mused Shlomo. “These are questions that come up every day.”
Some companies in Japan focus on making kinda virtual girlfriend content. - Masaru OhnogiClick To Tweet
As Head of Global Business Development for gumi Inc, one of Japan’s leading mobile gaming companies, Masaru Ohnogi oversees their strategic business partnerships around the world. Most people know gumi for their successes in mobile games, such as with Brave Frontier, Phantom of the Kill and Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. Over the past year, gumi have expanded considerably into VR by co-founding a $50 million VR fund called The Venture Reality Fund with partners in the Silicon Valley, which focuses on seed or early stage startups. In their session at Casual Connect Europe 2017, Nogi showcased the company’s achievements within AR/VR as well as provided the opportunity to take a peek into the current and future trends of VR in Asia and the world.
Not quite friends, but certainly not enemies, the United States and China have vastly different cultures – but despite that, both sides try their best to trade and promote their country’s products and technologies in each other’s markets. Some American brands – like Apple, Coca Cola – have done well in China, while several Chinese brands, like Huawei and ZTE, are recognized by American consumers for their technology, not just the low prices that Chinese products are usually associated with.
But there have been far more misses than hits for both in the other side’s markets – especially in technology. Ebay, for example, has struggled in the Far East, while WeChat, the Chinese all-around chat and e-commerce app, has yet to make inroads in the US. Why? Both missed important cultural or usage cues that consumers in each country were looking for. Chinese consumers preferred local online auction apps because they allowed them to instantly communicate with sellers (something eBay didn’t offer), while in the US, WeChat failed (or chose not) to make deals with other app makers or services like it has done in China. As a result, American WeChat users remained in the closed environment of the app, unable to use it to order meals or other products directly from chat, or tweet a photo taken using WeChat.
The differences in the way the American and Chinese markets work are just one example of how even in a fully interconnected world – with instant communications and nearly instant travel options – cultures and countries still retain independent identities, to the extent that marketers who failed to recognize just how different the world outside their neighborhood really is lost valuable time and money before realizing that they were a lot less well-informed than they should have been before foraying outside familiar territory.
Funding is a vastly important part of starting a new studio, and M&A is vital for large companies to infuse themselves with new talent and fresh IPs. Casual Connect Tel Aviv has got both covered in the Funding and M&A track, where various partners will be on hand to talk about effective ways to expand.
Fast Track to China
One of the major elements of both funding and M&A is China, both going into and going out of the country. There will be multiple sessions dealing with this in China and Asia in general, including Doing Business in China: The Perspective of an Entrepreneur Who Did It given by Reinaldo Normand, Investment Partner at GameFounders and Entering Asia by Sean Lee, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Wargaming Group.
For those looking to be acquired by a Chinese company, there’s a lot to consider. It can be hard to reach out to such companies or even know what they’re looking for. Corum Group Executive Vice President, Jim Perkins, has dealt with several M&A’s in the region, including the sale of Digital Extremes to Leyou Technologies and will address the subject in the session Is Your Company’s Buyer In Asia?
Large Purchases, Big Deals
The panels for Funding and M&A also have a focus on the Chinese region. With companies like Supercell, Playtika, Smaato and Media.net being subjects of M&A activity and China, it’s important to know what’s causing these deals and what happens to the companies. In the panel M&A in China – What is Driving Acquisitions by Chinese Firms?, Perfect World Head of Global Investment Bill Wang, CV Capital Adviser Jim Ying, and Youzu Interactive Vice President of Corporate BD Yuli Zhao will be moderated by Jim Perkins, Corum Group Executive Vice President and will talk about all qualities of these acquisitions from both sides.
While there have been some of the largest purchases in the mobile/casual industry instigated by Chinese companies, some think the investments from Chinese companies into Western markets has only begun. Bill Wang, Head of Global Investment at Perfect World, Ringo Zhu, Director Business Development for North America at CMGE, and Reinaldo Normand, Investment partner at GameFounders, will discuss in the panel Jumping the Great Wall – Funding Insights for China moderated by Jason Della Rocca, Co-Founder and Indie Evangelist at Execution Labs will talk about what Western studios can expect when exploring investment from China.
How to Pitch Your Company
The panels continue to talk about innovations that will drive investment, with voices coming from all around the world. Jim Ying, Adviser at CV Capital and Guy Bendov, CEO of SIDEKICK Games will participate in a the panel What’s the Next Big Innovation Opportunity in Games? moderated by Xiang Lin, Partner at Troodo Mobile.
Regardless of innovations, it can be hard to pitch an idea to investors. Jason Della Rocca, co-founder and Indie Evangelist at Execution Labs, will give tips in this session: Pitching Pro: 10 Non-Obvious Red Flags to Avoid When Seeking Investment. Sebastian Storfner, Director of Corporate Development at GREE International Entertainment, will also address the subject during the session The Changing Investment and M&A Scene in Mobile Gaming: Opportunities for Developers.
Seize the Opportunities
Whether you’re looking for investments or hoping to invest, there will be plenty of customers at Casual Connect Tel Aviv on November 1-3. Look to network during the formal events that will be offered, in addition to between the various sessions and panels. Find out more about the Funding And M&A track and more at TelAviv.CasualConnect.org.
Convince them that this is a positive investment. - Amy Huang-LeeClick To Tweet
With Asia currently trending in the games market, companies both within and outside the region take a closer look at all possible opportunities related, including investments. The right investor can not only bring you the right user platforms, but also the right relationships to other potential partners. Amy Huang, AVP of NetEase Capital, whose portfolio consists of top game studios which span the world, dived into these questions in their session at Casual Connect USA 2016. “When you are building your financial forecast, you want to be realistic in the predictions. What you can deliver based on the metrics that you already know about your game and then you do the math for them. Convince them that this is a positive investment. That is something that very much aligns the expectations”, they explained.
KTplay is a solution for instant mobile in-game communities headquartered in Beijing with offices in Boston. Founded by Spencer Liu, inspiration struck when he became increasingly frustrated about having to leave the games he was playing in order to hunt across the web for tips to advance to the next level. Spencer shares the story of the startup’s successful evolution from idea to product.
A New Age 3D strategy game made in China… Wait! MADE IN CHINA? Typically, anything made in China smells suspicious… In mobile it’s about some biased comments including but not limited to copying, out-of-line translation, not very user-friendly and so-much-text UI, etc. When Gunship Studio positioned themselves as the 3D game studio targeting overseas market, they chose a hard path… Yes Games is a mobile game developer founded in 2011. Gunship is one of the six studios under it. Unlike others who got famous IP support from Toei Animations (such as Dragon Ball and One Piece), Gunship has spent more than 12 months finding out what kind of game they want to make. The end result is Shield of God, whose story is told by the company’s overseas business director Amy Ho.
Nihao! Hello and welcome to China! Most game developers in the mobile space are starting to branch out and look to other markets. There’s been some strong interest in China. With over a billion people and about 400 million smartphones being used in China according to IDC, most developers are drooling over the idea of making a game for the Chinese market. Consultant for the Chinese game market Luke Stapley tells more.