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Monetizing Your Mobile Game for the Chinese Market

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Monetizing for China

The Chinese Mobile Market generated $30 Billion in revenue in 2022 domestically. It’s an incredibly lucrative market for games generally and particularly for mobile games.

China has over 153 million active mobile gamers, with 74% of those in full-time employment, and the other 16% being students. The player-base is a strong mix of those with the funds to invest heavily in their mobile games, and those with more time to play them. But what are the best options for generating revenue from your mobile titles in the Chinese market?

Free-to-Play with In-App Adverts

When surveyed, 17% of players said their favorite type of mobile games are F2P with IAPs. These games appeal to the Chinese market for many of the same reasons that they appeal to players around the world. A low barrier to entry and guarantee of no requirement to spend additional money makes it a win-win situation for both player and publisher.

Other studies have corroborated this overall feeling, with some finding that over 60% of Chinese mobile gamers prefer free-to-play titles. Looking more closely at the type of adverts that work well in China, the clear favorite was rewarded ads, where players can receive in-game currency for watching adverts. Following that, integrated adverts were the second highest preference. Integrated ads in this context mean adverts within the game world, without requiring the user to exit the game experience. Interactive AR and Video ads scored similarly with around 15% of gamers preferring them. Somewhat surprisingly, only 4% of respondents said their preference was for banner ads overlaying the game.

Free-to-Play with In-App Purchases (IAPs)

F2P with IAPs is often noted as one of the most popular monetization models for China, and worldwide. When surveyed, over 40% of respondents said it was their first pick with regards to their favorite monetization models.

F2P with IAPs provide the same low barrier to entry as the previous model, but also provide strong ongoing revenue generation. When asked about spending on mobile games, only 15% said they don’t spend anything. Therefore, 85% of players spend on their mobile games which is a powerful incentive to offer this kind of monetization model in the region. Even studies with lower expectations of paying-players cite this number as over 70% of mobile gamers.

The average player spends around $6 (or ¥40) but with a range going all the way up to $50 (or ¥440) per month. While that’s a wide range, even the players on the lower end present a lucrative revenue stream.

Premium Games (Pay to Play) without In-App Purchases (IAPs)

Around 24% of Chinese gamers said they prefer premium, or paid, games that have no in-game purchases or adverts. But overall, studies have found that only around 40% of players overall prefer Premium titles to F2P titles (either with adverts or IAPs).

Premium mobile models guarantee revenue but as is the case everywhere, the cost barrier can put some prospective players off. The other issue with this method is that, while initially generating revenue, the lack of microtransactions means that it’s hard to continually generate revenue. That can be an issue since 92% of gamers kept playing their favorite games for more than week. Combined with the findings that the average in-market gamer spends the equivalent of around $6 per month on mobile games, publishers could find themselves missing out on possible revenue due to the lack of IAPs.

Subscriptions and Memberships

Subscription models are one other option for generating revenue from the Chinese market. When surveyed over 70% of mobile gamers said they would be interested in games using this model.

Subscriptions are a direct way of generating constant revenue without having to deal with the rigorous in-app purchase regulations. While this model wouldn’t be suitable for every game, those with constant updates and player rewards could find success using it.

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