Todd Kuhns, marketing manager at AppInChina, told about what a game publisher might face when coming to China in his report for WN Winter’21.  We offer a short version of his speech.

Todd’s lecture is divided into two semantic parts. The first is devoted to a general overview of the market. The second is the peculiarities of publishing games in the Middle Kingdom.

Todd KoonsI.

The state of the Chinese gaming market for 2021

There are no discoveries here:

  • the largest sector is mobile games;
  • The entire video game market of China will earn $65 billion by the end of 2022.;
  • the market has been showing double-digit growth in recent years;
  • half of Chinese people play mobile games;
  • The main companies in the domestic gaming market are Tencent, NetEase, 37 Interactive and Perfect World.

Also worth noting:

  • of the top 200 most earning games in China, 156 belong to the midcore direction, the absolute majority of them – 120 titles — are role—playing games. 53% of the latter are multi—user;

The most popular gaming niches in Chinaat the same time, judging by user activity, games of various genres enjoy success in the Chinese market.

  • For example, the top 10 most popular games in the country include such casual projects as Happy Fun (MAU 69.6 million) and Mini World (MAU 51.6 billion).

Games with the highest MAU in ChinaII.1 Edition of games in China

  • All data about Chinese users should be stored on local servers. At the same time, you will not be able to use standard cloud services and libraries, since many of them are prohibited. You will have to work with local providers (AWS Chine, Azure Cloud China, Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud or Huawei Cloud).
  • The usual payment types also do not work, it is necessary to integrate popular solutions in China — WeChat Pay or Alipay.
  • The easiest way to publish a game in China until recently was to release it in the App Store. It remains the simplest, but with reservations (about them below).
  • As is well known, Google Play is blocked in the country. But there are 400 other Android stores. At the same time, there are enough stores that publish exclusively games. Todd recommends paying the main attention to them.

The most popular mobile gaming stores in ChinaAll applications (no matter, games or other software) require obtaining several (!) licenses (the same reservations, yes).

  • The first license worth doing is Software Copyright Certificate (SCC) or software copyright certificate. It is used, among other things, in courts when cases of copying are being dealt with. That is why it is necessary to attach a part of the code to the application for its receipt.

Requirements and deadlines for obtaining SCCThe second license is the Internet Content Publishing (ICP) License or the license to publish content on the Internet.

  • It comes in two types — Beian and Commercial. The first is necessary for everyone who distributes information (including free games). The second one, as you can guess from the name, allows its owner to accept payments (required for games with IAP). ICP, like SCC, can really be obtained in a month.

Requirements and deadlines for obtaining an ICPEven when publishing the game, you will need to register a trademark.

  • It takes from a month to three.
  • The most difficult stage (we will talk about it at we have already written more than once) — obtaining a registration number for the game (ISBN). It takes from 8 months or more. Yes, according to the law, all games must have a license. At the same time, in practice, ISBN is required only from paid games or games with IAP. Free games, including those that are monetized through advertising, are published without it for the time being. But at any moment the situation may change.

II.2 How to get an ISBN

The ISBN for the game can only be obtained by a company that is Chinese. Having a local office or division is not enough. In addition, the game will need to be embedded:

  • a system for verifying users by their real name;
  • restrictions that will prevent gambling addiction.

And this is not to mention getting a Security Assessment Form, in which you need to go through procedures that check where the developer stores user data and whether there is illegal content in the game.

After that, when submitting the controller , it is necessary to provide:

  • at least 10 screenshots reflecting gameplay and graphics;
  • the entire in-game Chinese text, including descriptions of characters encountered, dialogues, mission descriptions, names of inventory items, and so on;
  • explain exactly which features of the game are struggling with gaming addiction;
  • administrative accounts of various access levels for evaluating features against gaming addiction and content;
  • a video with the gameplay of the game for 10 minutes, 2 of which should be devoted to combat mechanics;
  • the game itself.

The game will not pass the review if it:

  • there are mentions of gambling and poker;
  • there is no promotion of Chinese social or cultural values;
  • historical events are not presented in the form in which it is customary in China;
  • there is pornography, nudity, references to homosexual relationships, polygamy, infidelity and generally sex in any manifestation;
  • there are dead bodies, skeletons, vampires, blood, zombies and “scary images”.

From the game about Mario in China, the skull was removed from his hat and an eye patchII.3 Other market features

It is also important to keep in mind the following:

  • most stores require using their own SDK (and there are a lot of them at the same time);
  • A separate APK is also required for each individual store;
  • Chinese stores take 50% or more from sales;
  • it is better to use local solutions to implement advertising.