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games on the iOS is also higher. In-depth simulation/strategy/MMORPG games like Hoolai and Three King-
doms expanded from the PC to the iOS, and did extremely well. Hoolai, in fact, started a cross-platform trend
for MMOs, which Chinese gamers are embracing.
But again, the market for hard-core on iOS is just starting to grow. Hard-core games for the PC are quite huge
in China (it's not uncommon for Chinese MMOs to have tens of millions of active players), and there's every
reason to think this market will continue moving to the iOS. The challenge for Western developers is to properly
localize their products for the China market and succeed in the same way that Microsoft's Age of Empires and
all of Blizzard's games have. “RTS and RPG will do very well in the upcoming 6-12 months,” predicts Fong,
“assuming they're adapted properly.”
Android Market: Huge, But Hard to Monetize
It's worth noting that the Android has also experienced a massive explosion in China, especially versions of the
smartphone that are now sold in China for under $100 (and consequently, do not display high-end graphics.)
Much of this growth in the Android market is coming from outside major cities like Beijing and Shanghai—in
2011, half of Android's revenue came from second- and third-tier cities. According to Fong, it's typical for
Android owners in these regions to earn $300-400 dollars a month, and spend half of that on gaming .
However, despite this enthusiasm for Android, the market is extremely fragmented and, therefore, difficult
to monetize. In China's Google Play, gamers cannot pay for games; Amazon doesn't even have an app store for
the local market. Instead, there are more than 70 Android app stores that divvy up the market. For now, then,
the primary monetization channel for Android games in China is through advertising. Over time, Fong believes,
this market will consolidate and payments will get easier. Until then, Android is more or less the Wild East for
To Avoid: Western Social Media Integration
China already has its own local social networks, like Sina Weibo, RenRen, and Tencent's social networks, and
the West's leading social networks, Facebook and Twitter, are blocked by the government. This painful political
fact reverses another common design consideration for game developers: it's better not to have core game fea-
tures for an iOS title that depend on Facebook and Twitter, because doing so will cripple or even ruin the game
experience for Chinese gamers. If your core game mechanics depend heavily on social network integration, as
part of the localization process, Western developers should work with local publishers like Yodo1 to integrate
their games with China's social networks.
Avoid Designing Locally (Just for Western Audiences)
This point is what Fong dubs the “Who the hell is King Arthur?” problem. In other words, as he puts it, “The
Chinese audience has no idea why a guy who pulls a sword out of a stone will be the King of England.”
In other words, avoid adding specifics to your game that assume knowledge of Western culture. Instead,
since Chinese culture contains a lot of myths and folklore that have strong thematic overlaps to well-known
stories from the West, it might be worth marrying aspects of these themes to your existing story. (By example,
The Romance of The Three Kingdoms , a classic beloved in China, contains stories of heroic chivalry and battle
that Chinese audiences can easily relate to.)
This leads to a related point.
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