China's mobile gaming market booming thanks to WeChat
It's been a good year for mobile game developers in China. A recent report
from market research firm iResearch claims total user spend in the Chinese mobile gaming market hit 3.6 billion Yuan (roughly $590 million at current exchange) in the third quarter of 2013. That's nearly 75 percent more than the third quarter of 2012, making it China's biggest mobile gaming growth spurt in over two years.
The analysts at iResearch believe that spurt may be fueled by Tencent's recent decision to add a gaming hub to its mega-popular WeChat mobile app. In September Tencent dominated the mobile game charts -- in terms of both number of unique players and time spent per player -- with casual titles like Tiantian Ai Xiaochu
(a simple match-three game featuring boards full of cute animal faces).
The folks over at Pocketgamer suggest
that these Tencent mobile games are successful because they're designed to spread quickly across the WeChat social network via social gameplay mechanics like leaderboards, much like Facebook games or Japan's LINE Game Platform
Plenty of companies are moving to take advantage of the country's mobile game boom. According to the report, many corporate mergers took place in China this year as both gaming and non-gaming companies tried to establish a foothold in the market. That suggests the window of opportunity for developers to ride the wave of growth in the market may be shrinking, though there's still plenty of room for well-localized ports of popular games.
Plants Vs. Zombies 2
, for example, came to China on Android in September and quickly built a large playerbase despite an in-app payment system with inflated prices that drove many players to claim PopCap's Shanghai studio had betrayed
the Chinese people.