Mobio Talks took a range of interviews with conference participants during the White Nights Moscow 2016 held in October 11-12 this year. Today we are publishing a conversation between the Business Development Manager of Mobio Maxim Anisimov and Ilya Salamatov, Business Development Director at 101XP.
What regions does the Asian market of mobile applications include?
The Asian market is enormous. This year the gaming apps market of China alone will exceed $11 billion, and this is the largest market in the industry. If we count all of Asia – China, Japan, South Korea and all of Southeast Asian region – it is a vast share of the world gaming market.
What genres are the most popular for entering the Asian region?
We are not talking about a specific genre here but about the product quality. If you have a top grossing project on hands that demonstrates good results in other markets, some of the Asian publishers may get interested. The product can be a casual game – something Playrix makes, as well as a hardcore game, but the most important is what the project demonstrates.
In order to get the Asian partners interested, you need to develop your game in a trending genre. For example, action role-playing games are really popular in Asia right now. If you take a look at the Chinese Top Grossing, you will see a half of projects from this genre, and the same is true about the South Korea. Japan is a bit different in this respect. We are talking about the mobile projects here. If we are talking about the Asian market as a whole, it can be browser-based projects or even downloadable client-based PC titles. Of course, I am talking about free-to-play games only here. Free-to-play is a dominant model for monetization in Asia.
As for monetization, do Asian apps have some specifics here?
First, the Asians are very meticulous about various built-in promos in the games. Most likely, you will not find such variety of promos inside Western titles. We are talking about daily and weekly events that commemorate some local holidays. This is as far as the in-game monetization events go.
Another thing common to Chinese players is the desire to showcase their VIP status, the fact that they can put $10 grand into a game for other players to see. In the States the situation is quite the opposite – the players prefer to hide how much they spend inside the games, regardless the fact that they pay as well, and can deposit the same money but keeping it quiet, nevertheless.
Please share some unique features of game development in Asia.
First, the size of their teams. What we consider a mid-size team – for instance, 30, 40, 50 people, would be a small team in Asia. A mid-size team is around 300-400 people in one studio. Large studios have thousands of people and there are a lot of them. The industry itself is enormous; it consumes a lot of content: you need big teams to produce it. An ordinary situation in a Chinese studio: you enter a huge openspace full of engineers and you have six floors of it. The level of professional skills as far as quality has increased dramatically: they have already learned how to make good and proper game design, and make games generate more cash.
A couple of words about the pirate stores in Asia.
As weird as it may sound, a lot of Asian people are not ashamed of using jailbroken smartphones, and there are some real big stores here – even official alternatives. Taken together, these stores look pretty good against the official stores in terms of revenue.
What trends can we expect in the Asian market?
Everything will be growing, including mobile. This market is highly competitive and large investments are being poured into it.
And what are the special features of the Korean market?
Well, first, it has a large number of very strong national players – all the companies founded 20-25 years ago grew together with the market. They have reached large sizes by now – these are real monsters employing 1000 people each. Historically the Korean market was specializing in PC client-based projects – the widely-known projects like Lineage 2, Crossfire – a wildly popular first person shooter in China, grossing $1 million annually.
But, there was an explosion-like growth of mobile platforms. Some of the companies managed to get on board, some didn’t, and we witnessed new strong players in the area – such as Netmarble – the company that dominates the Korean market right now, partially owned by Tencent. Sometimes, I get a feeling that Tencent has a stake in every successful gaming company in the World.
The Korean development is very self-centered – the offices of the largest players are located in one area. They have done a good thing – built the offices themselves by investing into real estate. And the real estate is a good investment. They have diversified like this and tried to alleviate the risks.
The penetration of Chinese projects into Korea is quite obvious. Koreans are capable of developing games grossing millions in their local market, but they feel out-of-line in Western markets. The Chinese develop games that generate cash both in China, Korea, Japan and globally as well.
Is it an easy task to adapt a game for the Asian market? Do you need to change things?
An Asian publisher will give you a list of requirements for changing the project. It would be wise to listen carefully and make all the requested changes. The gaming habits of Asian players are different from the European: they consume content faster and love hardcore gaming. You need more content for games in Asia to be able to appeal to its gamers and stay in the top listings for as long as you can.