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Kliuless #18: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

by Kenneth Liu on 01/10/19 10:42:00 am   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

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.


Kliuless? Gaming Industry ICYMI #18

Hi, my name is Kenny Liu, and I work in Revenue Strategy at Riot Games. Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.

See more or subscribe at:

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order

  • Dr. Kai-Fu Lee's AI Superpowers is the best book I have read about the recent history and near future of China's technology scene. I would highly recommend reading his work in its entirety, but below please find some excerpts I chose to highlight from his blog
  • "Silicon Valley and China’s internet ecosystem grew out of very different cultural soil
    • Entrepreneurs in the Valley are often the children of successful professionals[.] Growing up they were constantly told that they— yes, they in particular—could change the world. Their undergraduate years were spent learning the art of coding from the world’s leading researchers but also basking in the philosophical debates of a liberal arts education. When they arrived in Silicon Valley, their commutes to and from work took them through the gently curving, tree-lined streets of suburban California
      • It’s an environment of abundance that lends itself to lofty thinking, to envisioning elegant technical solutions to abstract problems. Throw in Silicon Valley’s rich history of computer-science breakthroughs, and you’ve set the stage for the geeky-hippie hybrid ideology that has long defined Silicon Valley. Central to that ideology is a wide-eyed techno-optimism, a belief that every person and company can truly change the world through innovative thinking. Copying ideas or product features is frowned upon as a betrayal of the zeitgeist and an act that is beneath the moral code of a true entrepreneur. It’s all about 'pure' innovation, creating a totally original product that generates what Steve Jobs called a 'dent in the universe'
      • Startups that grow up in this kind of environment tend to be mission-driven. They start with a novel idea or idealistic goal, and they build a company around that. Company mission statements are clean and lofty, detached from earthly concerns or financial motivations
    • In stark contrast, China’s startup culture is the yin to Silicon Valley’s yang: instead of being mission-driven, Chinese companies are first and foremost market-driven. Their ultimate goal is to make money, and they’re willing to create any product, adopt any model, or go into any business that will accomplish that objective. That mentality leads to incredible flexibility in business models and execution, a perfect distillation of the 'lean startup' model often praised in Silicon Valley. It doesn’t matter where an idea came from or who came up with it. All that matters is whether you can execute it to make a financial profit. The core motivation for China’s market- driven entrepreneurs is not fame, glory, or changing the world. Those things are all nice side benefits, but the grand prize is getting rich, and it doesn’t matter how you get there"
  • "In my view, that willingness to get one’s hands dirty in the real world separates Chinese technology companies from their Silicon Valley peers. American startups like to stick to what they know: building clean digital platforms that facilitate information exchanges. Those platforms can be used by vendors who do the legwork, but the tech companies tend to stay distant and aloof from these logistical details. They aspire to the mythology satirized in the HBO series Silicon Valley, that of a skeleton crew of hackers building a billion-dollar business without ever leaving their San Francisco loft
    • Chinese companies don’t have this kind of luxury. Surrounded by competitors ready to reverse-engineer their digital products, they must use their scale, spending, and efficiency at the grunt work as a differentiating factor. They burn cash like crazy and rely on armies of low-wage delivery workers to make their business models work. It’s a defining trait of China’s alternate internet universe that leaves American analysts entrenched in Silicon Valley orthodoxy scratching their heads"

Revenue Strategy

  • Washington Post: The app-store war between Netflix and Apple is heating up
    • "A growing number of software companies are looking to bypass the dominant app store gatekeepers at Apple and Google — selling their services directly to consumers and undercutting the tech giants that for years have controlled how most of iPhone and Android users discover, download and pay for their apps"
  • Blog: Is 2019 the year that influencer marketing grows up?
    • "I believe that there’s a strong chance that in 2019, a major social platform — Youtube, Instagram/Facebook, Twitch, or Snapchat — fully embraces influencer marketing, by providing influencers / sponsors full access to the tools available to advertisers on their native ad platforms today. This includes tools such as attribution (particularly view-through attribution), native CTA buttons, audience data, and retargeting capabilities"


  • Project Horseshoe: Design Practices for Human Scale Online Games
    • [KL: Project Horseshoe is a game design think tank that includes Spry Fox's Daniel Cook]
  • King: Breaking down the metagame design in a mobile RPG


  • Nintendo open to moving away from home consoles, says company president 
  • The Division 2 coming to Epic Games Store, skipping Steam [KL: one of first AAA releases to do so]
  • Activision Blizzard makes three new major leadership appointments
    • Related: Blizzard CFO poached by Square Inc
  • Paradox Interactive Acquires Prison Architect from Introversion Software
  • Robot Entertainment to shut down Orcs Must Die! Unchained, Hero Academy games


  • How everyone at Supercell ensures the "creative people are running the show"
    • Related: Supercell's killed games: Celebrating lessons, not failures
  • Rumor: Xiaomi might be making a foldable tablet device of its own


  • Opinion: Pokémon Go creator Niantic raises $190 million in a funding round it doesn’t need
  • HTC unveils two new standalone VR headsets
  • Vuzix will ship $1,000 consumer Blade AR smart glasses in February
  • DigiLens shows its Crystal design for lightweight augmented reality glasses
  • Audi & Disney want to "spice up" your Uber ride with VR [KL: unclear to me how they would also prevent "throw up" though]


  • Chinese companies, rallying around Huawei after CFO arrest, urge employees to boycott U.S. rival Apple
  • Chinese censors ring in the new year with six-month cyber crackdown
  • Quantic FoundryHow Chinese and American gamers differ


  • DUSK and the Design of 90's FPS Games
  • The Sims is integrating with Amazon Alexa devices
  • Amateur esports platform, Super League Gaming, prepares to raise up to $25mm in IPO
  • Tales of an aging gamer: Why don’t I pick up a controller as often as I used to?
  • Part Live-Performance Art, Part Video Game, ‘Meditations’ Takes 365 Days to Experience
  • Chinese students are hooked on homework apps… because they have games and sexually explicit content
  • Press ‘A’ to Study Harder: A new video game captures the anxiety of Chinese parenting
  • The Verge: The 40 Games We Can't Wait to Play in 2019
  • TouchArcade: Best iPhone Games of 2018
    • Related: 2018's Best Videogame Soundtracks
    • Related: The best writing in games in 2018
  • The Bird Box Effect: How Memes Drive Users to Netflix

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Twitter: @kliuless
LinkedIn: @kliuless

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