China is regarded as a leader in F2P, with consumers unwilling to pay upfront for games. This all started with the famous Chinese console ban. With no consoles, gamers turned to online games, filling up Internet cafes. So instead of paying US$26 for new content, Chinese gamers grew up expecting to find their games on the Internet, for free.
Furthermore, with rampant piracy, gamers can just find a free version of the game they want to play on one of China’s many app stores. However, China’s online history isn’t bad news for developers. Since China developed so quickly, most people don’t own personal computers but instead access the Internet from their mobile devices or cafes. This mobile-first environment means consumers are more willing to spend on mobile devices than in other countries.
Proof of this payment ease? 29 percent of Chinese mobile gamers don’t remember the reason they made an in-app purchase. When playing puzzle games, this number jumps to 34 percent. Compare this to 11 percent in the United States. There is a massive opportunity to monetize a game in China because mobile users are comfortable spending on their phones, if approached correctly.
I just want to win!
One of the biggest influencers of Chinese gamers’ buying behaviors? They just want to win. Here are a few tips for monetizing these competitive but challenge-adverse players:
•Keep it easy at first. Chinese gamers don’t like too difficult games and will quit if it is too hard.
•Include an instant-revive feature.
•Offer VIP packs – they’ll pay for them.
•Utilize the gacha mechanism – random luck drawing for prizes and weapons that boost gameplay.
Scratch their backs
If correctly incentivized, Chinese gamers are willing to pay. However, in return for their purchases, they expect excellent customer service. You should have local customer service available, be it online chat, a WeChat account, or over the phone. This goes double for whales, or high-spending players. Chinese companies use all sorts of tactics to keep big payers happy.
What about Monument Valley?
Last year, Monument Valley, a top paid game of 2014, made waves when they announced their revenue numbers and China iOS accounted for 12 percent of their global revenue. With stunning visuals, unique gameplay, and universality, it was appealing enough for gamers to open their wallets for a pay-to-play game. Our China office told us that Chinese gamers chose to purchase the official version rather than download pirated versions because they wanted to support the studio that made such a beautiful game.
There is an exception to every rule, and Monument Valley is the exception to China’s F2P rule. Unless your game is as exceptional and acclaimed as Monument Valley, it’s best to make a game free to play in China.
Keep these tips in mind when looking to monetize a game in the country and you will have 360 million potential customers excited to pay for your F2P game.
Based in Boston, MA , and with offices in Shanghai, Oniix provides end-to-end mobile application publishing in China to developers all over the world. Oniix has invested heavily in forming the proper infrastructure and expertise to successfully tackle the Chinese mobile market. This, along with relationships with key channel partners and app stores, allows to us to guarantee success in such a difficult market.