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August 4, 2020
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Publishing A Game on WeGame: Our Experience

by Iain Garner on 02/12/18 09:04:00 am

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

I’ve been working in the gaming in China since 2014. When I started the industry (except mobile) was outward facing, but in the last 2 years, all that has changed. Steam’s rise in China coupled with console launches and the launch of WeGame, Cube, Stone, and other gaming services have opened the Chinese market.

My company, Another Indie, recently launched a Chinese developed game on WeGame and I thought our experience and insights might be useful for anyone considering doing the same. In short our game, Original Journey, was a solid flop on Steam and WeGame has breathed new life into the game.

 

1. Getting a game on WeGame is hard!

Government rules require all games to go through an authorization process to ensure they contain no offending material. This process, in our experience, takes between 2-4 months but we know that other companies with racier titles have found the process taking a lot longer, this process is known as the GAPP.

Because Original Journey was a Chinese made game we only had to do the GAPP, however, however games must first pass the Ministry of Culture inspection, this is also advertised as a 3-month process but may take significantly longer. I’ve never heard of anyone passing first try. These two processes together mean that the whole process usually takes 4-8 months for a foreign game entering China but 6 months minimum seems the reality.

All documentation must be completed in Chinese, there’s no English option but there’s plenty of potential partners in China for you to speak to. (Hello!)

In order to pass this you will always need a China-Only version of your game to comply to specific rules, one of which is NO other languages. Simplified Chinese only, this includes all background artwork, menus etc. I have seen games rejected for simply having the word “Start” in them.

Only when all this is done, can you actually get your game on WeGame. This makes it almost impossible for indie games out of China to have simultaneous launch on WeGame unless they are willing to wait around.

 

2. Wegame is CRAZY supportive, for now.

WeGame did a lot more than we expected them to do when we launched Original Journey on their platform. They assigned us Tencent Community Managers, Tencent Testing, and supported us with Tencent’s own authorised influencers. We got a solid amount of front page space (we are still there now!) and we were even given a space on the WeGame launcher. Bear in mind the Original Journey is quite a small indie project from a first-time dev team, it’s beautiful but not exactly a “high value” asset to a company like Tencent, so we were surprised at the level of support and attention we received.

 Sales were significantly better than on Steam and have actually continued to be good. Currently, WeGame doesn’t rely on the “explosive” first day success that Steam does, though that will probably change as the platform fills up.

If you can launch on WeGame soon, you probably should as the story will be different as the platform gets more content.

 

3. WeGame is building great community features

If you know anything about Tencent, you will know that Tencent doesn’t like to rely on others so it’s not surprising to discover that WeGame is basically building an entire social media around gaming. As well as Standard community forums, WeGame has a chat feature for every game enabling users to get quick answers from developers or the community and a dedicated Twitter-Like system called WeFeed for each title and user.

 

As well as it’s own Twitter feature, Tencent is going after streamers too and WeChat has it’s own internal streaming. Currently, this is only available to Tencent authorised streamers but I imagine that will be opening up for user registration.

It’s way too early to tell if these features will be a success but the community on WeGame seems to be thriving (though a certain percentage is definitely artificial) and it seems a great way to get gamers into their own little communities without being as labyrinthian or archaic as Steam.

At this time, WeGame is pretty well patrolled by WeGame Community staff but it will be interesting to see what happens as the community grows. However, due to Chinese laws and Tencent’s own ideals, I doubt it will ever be the free-for-all often seen on Steam.

 

4. Be prepared to offer something

Whether its access to a new patch, Chinese focussed features, or a new game mode, Tencent is more likely to be interested if something is offered to them exclusively. Remember that Tencent’s goal is to be the number one platform in China (and then the world, if I know that Penguin as well as I think I do) and that required converting Steamer WeGamers. In order to do that, they are going to need something exclusive, if only for a limited amount of time. With Original Journey we offered content exclusive to WeGame and though it was never an explicit part of the deal, it seems to have helped our relationship with Tencent given them the motivation to go the extra mile.

 

Conclusion

If you can’t launch a game on WeGame you should at least be thinking about it for your next title. The opportunity to work with a partner with even more resources that Valve is exciting and the prospect of competition should excite us all. Start thinking about MOC and GAPP approval and how you’re going to get it. If you’re bold enough to go alone, do it. If you need help, find a partner who will take a percentage or a lower payment. GAPP and MOC are not expensive but they do consume a lot of time. But in the end, being on a platform with Tencent’s resources and reach at the beginning of its life is something for everyone to consider.

 


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