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The realities of the Chinese mobile market for western devs
The realities of the Chinese mobile market for western devs
July 1, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

"Id say this year, were looking at eight to 30 percent of the market."
- iDreamSky co-founder Jeff Lyndon, on the potential for foreign-developed games in the Chinese smartphone market.

Thirty percent of the Chinese mobile market for Western-developed games? That sounds pretty good, right? The bad news: Finding success in China is not simple, even if your game is a hit in the West.

In a new interview with VentureBeat, iDreamSky co-founder Jeff Lyndon lays down some interesting insights into the Chinese mobile market -- one that is increasingly lucrative but also extremely difficult for Western developers to enter.

His company helps games from Western studios reach Chinese audiences -- including such hits as Temple Run, Subway Surfers, and Fruit Ninja.

One of the major pain points for the market is piracy, and another is its vast array of app stores -- over 200 relevant ones, Lyndon says. In fact, the two issues are connected, Lyndon argues: App stores that can't get versions of popular games will accept pirated copies, Lyndon says, just to make sure they have all of the hot titles.

This app store fragmentation also means that different players, with different preferences, frequent different stores. iDreamSky customizes the games it distributes in China to capitalize on that, he says. "Games that have more social features work better in the Tencent ecosystem," Lyndon says. "Recently we did an update for Baidus version of Subway Surfer that specifically focuses on competition, the Baidu Championship Tournament."

You can read the rest of that interview; Lyndon also shared his advice for Western developers who hope to sell their mobile games in China with Gamasutra.

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Greg Quinn
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Does piracy also affect in-app purchases in these markets?

i.e do they actually hack the games so when an IAP is made it returns a response so that item or gold is added to the player's inventory?

Christian Nutt
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His answer seems to imply that it does, because he said that the app stores are happy to offer the legit version of the game because then they get a cut of the IAPs.

I'm guessing that means most of the pirated versions are hacked for free IAPs, rather than diverting the IAP revenue to the pirates, but that is all inference on my part.

Fan Zhang
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IAP can be cracked easily if not encrypt hard enough or keep the game forced online, there's some cheating software for both iOS and Android just like cheat engine for PC games, there're also many ways to edit local save file to achieve IAP free.

And they are not exclusive in China.

Fan Zhang
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Next time you want to know about "the realities of the Chinese mobile market", try asking Supercell why Clash of Clans can success in China without any local publisher or any "localization cultural element", Chinese players are playing exactly the same game with everyone else on this planet, the Chinese version changed nothing but text translation, and it's the only game remain in App Store China region Top Grossing Chart like forever while it's rivals changed daily/weekly/monthly.

Also, It is interesting to read iDreamSky talking about "combat piracy and unauthorized distribution", do you know the company just got sued by Perfect World and Changyou together over copyright infringement? Obviously they won't tell you anything about this right?