Top Recommendations for Breaking into the American, Chinese and Korean Mobile Game Markets

Posted on March 17, 2014
By Emily Basileo

These following recommendations are from InMobi's Mobile Gaming Cross-Market Analysis report:

  1. Develop and market games specific to gamers of their target country: Mobile developers must understand the typical gaming consumers specific to each country. For example, Chinese and Korean gamers prefer RPG and adventure games, whereas Americans prefer puzzle games. In addition, gamers who prefer the same game genres share similar reasons for gameplay (e.g. strategy gamers play because they enjoy the challenge and casino gamers play primarily to kill time).
  2. Understand app discovery/ distribution specific to each target country: Each country has varying app distribution ecosystems; nevertheless, developers should take a multi-channel distribution approach, leveraging both organic app store and word of mouth downloads, as well as utilizing mobile, online, and social marketing. In particular, since China has a particularly fragmented ecosystem, developers must partner with established developers and large app platforms in addition to being featured in app stores and running ads. In Korea, the Kakao platform acts as a primary app download discovery epicenter. In fact, developers should monitor the emergence of chat applications as mobile gaming platforms and may even want to incorporate them into their distribution strategies.
  3. Utilize the free-to-play game model: Mobile game developers looking to break into East Asian mobile game markets should create free-to-play game models with in-game purchases. The threat of software piracy continues to deter many developers from producing single-player of localized games. Also, charging for a download usually comes at the expense of scale. An alternative to charging for app downloads is to generate income through subscription fees or in-game purchases. American game developers should follow suit, creating mobile-optimized free-to-play models with in-game purchases.
  4. Leverage in-game purchases: Mobile game developers need to tailor their in-game purchases to their target gamers. For example, Korean gamers who prefer quick and simple gameplay will upgrade to beat a tough level, whereas American gamers who prefer very challenging gameplay will upgrade to beat a tough level or unlock new levels. Depending on the country, developers may need to partner with a local third-party payment platform – in China, Tencent’s TenPay or Alibaba’s Alipay are two of the most used payment platforms.
  5. Capitalize on Game Traffic: All gamers are not equal, but developers should be able to monetize all gamers. Mobile developers can monetize non-paying or low quality gamers by placing 3rd party ads in their games. Chinese and American gamers both average over 30 minutes per game session, and more than three-quarters of gamers in all three countries play at least once a day. Developers should also take advantage of newly emerging mobile ad formats, such as native and customizable ads, app galleries, and value-exchange ads.
  6. Optimize with data: Data is key. Mobile developers need to take a data-centric approach when designing their games and crafting their distribution and monetization strategies. Developers must merge consumer insights with gameplay metrics to continuously optimize their campaigns, effectively maximizing their revenue potential.

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The full Mobile Gaming Cross-Market Analysis is available to download via our InMobi’s Global Insights Portal: here

Download our complementary report, Mobile Gaming Playbook, which discusses mobile gaming trends and monetization strategies specific to the U.S.: here

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Mobile Gaming Cross-Market Analysis

Mobile Gaming Playbook, US

App Insight Report

What Developers Can Learn from My Mobile Game Addiction