Breaking into Asian mobile games markets is no cakewalk. While some games, like Clash of Clans, enjoy multi-year runs of wild popularity, they are the exception rather than the rule. Most mobile games release quickly, gain popularity fast, and fade away to make room for the next game just as quickly. Time is of the essence, but there’s good news: Since mobile games usually rely on action-oriented game play with simpler graphics, less text and character restrictions, and little or no voiceover work, they don’t take very long to localize!
That’s a good thing, because to stay on top of the market, you have to come in already localized with a system in place for simultaneous delivery (which a full-service localization company can facilitate). You’ll also need a local partner for distribution and/or monetization.
From there, you’ll need to master the finer points of what makes each country’s mobile players tick – or tap, as the case may be.
A few top-tips on what makes who tick (or tap) in Asia
Japanese players expect in-game social interaction, like combat between guilds.
South Korean gamers have come to expect frequent game updates and special in-game events.
China has more than 15 app stores – which is a significant change from just dealing with two (Apple and Google’s) – as well as networks selling games, and middlemen at telecom companies and hardware manufacturers.
In general, Asian gamers are better conditioned for more complicated games than Western audiences – your game might be too simple for them. There’s a reason Angry Birds took off in the U.S. and not so much in Japan!
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China, Japan and South Korea comprise the world’s largest mobile gaming market with $12.2 billion in total revenue as of 2014.
If you’re counting, that’s 48 percent of the total global revenue for mobile games from just those three countries, and numbers of users are rising quickly.
Here are a few more vital statistics on the Asian mobile gaming front:
- Android phones are far more popular than iPhones. In China, for instance, Android devices have a 64.2 percent market share, which is more than twice that of all iOS devices.
- Thailand loves their Samsung and Apple phones nearly equally, with Nokia as a close third. However, inexpensive local brands are common too.
- Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam prefer Nokia, but Malaysia and the Philippines sit solidly on the Samsung fan wagon.
- Japan’s market for both iPhone and Android games is the largest in the world, with a value 1.33 times the size of the U.S. market (as of October 2014)
Find out more by downloading our eBook on The Strategy Guide to Winning in Asia with Games Localization
“The largest mobile games market in the world” sounds awfully tempting, doesn’t it?
It’s like the Wonka Factory to a chocoholic, or Comicon to a Joss Whedon fan. It’s true, the Japanese love their mobile games. Step on any train platform in Tokyo, and you’ll see well-heeled young professionals furiously tapping at their phones (and odds are, they’re playing Monster Strike). What could be dangerous about introducing your game into such a welcoming country? Just take a gander at the statistics!
Here be dragons!
Specifically, a game called Puzzle & Dragons, which along with Monster Strike runs an effective duopoly on Japanese mobile gaming spending. Yes, Japanese gamers have been estimated to spend a whopping $65 a month on their mobile games, but 70 to 80 percent of that money went to either Dragons or Monsters. Between 2001 and 2013, not one foreign-made video game title broke the top 100 in Japan.
Which brings us to our new vocabulary term: “yoge kusoge” – or, “foreign games are crap.” That’s a loose translation of an idea that has pervaded the Japanese games market. It’s up for debate whether this attitude is changing – from what we’ve observed, well-localized Western games are in demand, at least in consoles and PC. But the mobile market? It’s a tough one.
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