TopStory – How to successfully navigate China’s online gaming market


November 13, 2014

Tyler Cotton, International Communications Director at Wandoujia

China Connect : Which are the key characteristics and trends of the Chinese App market ?

Tyler Cotton : While the all-time top downloaded apps remain the essentials – Baidu MapsQQWeChat, etc. – in the Wandoujia Mobile Search Index (1), we tried to sift download data for emerging new players. Month after month of looking at top new and top growth charts, we found new social platforms based on niche interests, lottery apps, and some nifty tools apps such as crowd-sourcing Wi-Fi password apps. In general, though, games see huge download numbers in comparison to their app siblings. The big foreign hits like Plants vs. Zombies and Clash of Clans always take top positions, but some homegrown hits like I’m MT andCarrot Fantasy 2 saw huge domestic success. There has always been plethora of games inspired by Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In the December 2013 issue, we spotlighted the continued rise in China of newly popular “mid-core” games taking after the success of I’m MT. These games mix elements of card games and hard-core roleplaying games in order to lure more casual gamers with simplified gameplay and hook them with more immersive story elements. This is a mix highly sought-after for games hoping for a more sustained level of monetization. In addition to apps and games, we’ve seen the desire for mobile video content explode over the last year in China. Inspired by this, Wandoujia first launched an in-app search tool in September 2013 to help users find specific shows and movies buried within China’s two dozen video streaming service apps. This is a use case in which the ecosystem of China is developing in a way yet unseen in the West, and it’s why Wandoujia is focusing increasingly on its in-app search technology to help users find the content they desire within “siloed” native apps.


China Connect : Which western apps rank on top of the charts, and what/how much does it say of the Chinese consumer/the local market?

Tyler Cotton : We looked at this very topic last June (2). We found most of the all-time top foreign apps and games in China had one thing in common: they invested resources in the Chinese market. Developers like PopCap and Evernote opened offices in China and localized their products well. Racing game Ski Safari worked with local game publisher Yodo1 to add special China-themed content for the Chinese launch of its game such as Terracotta Warrior Panda costumes. Henry Fong, CEO of Yodo1 calls this “deep localization.” Amy Gu, General Manager of Evernote in China emphasized close access to local users allowed for better feedback for improving the product. Getting a great Chinese name was also key in relating the use of their product. This extra effort obviously paid off for these apps.

China Connect : The Chinese being “serial players/gamers”, there’s a huge opportunity for marketers to (better/more) tap into these cultural dimension/users’ behaviors and tastes: what would you advise them to pay attention to?

Tyler Cotton : I think the example of successful foreign apps and games holds true for good marketing: get local or find someone local to partner with for insider understanding. China is an immense market numerically and geographically, with a range of user types, device quality, and interests. To successfully navigate the inclinations of China’s people, you’ll need on-the-ground insight into popular content, social memes, etc. There is also the need to think outside of the Western box once you familiarize yourself with Chinese mobile ecosystem and its differences. For example, Wandoujia partnered with a movie ticket app to produce an interesting marketing case study. Wandoujia wielded its in-app search technology to serve users searching for in-theatre film content with a link to purchase movie tickets via Cat Eye Movies (猫眼电影) app. We promoted this partnership with Han Han’s The Continent (后会无期) film, and the campaign attracted 300,000 pre-ordered tickets for the film, and a 16x increase in the number of downloads of the Cat Eye Movies app.


Wandoujia IAS movie tix 2

Wandoujia IAS movie tix 1



(1) China App Index (

(2) Mobile Search Index (


Laure de Carayon
Founder&Ceo China Connect




PR Newswire