This year’s China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference, or ChinaJoy for short, might just be the industry benchmark for the next decade. For the longest time MMORPG (Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game) traditional games have dominated the market, resulting in some sort of bottleneck that has effectively slowed down the development of online gaming in China. To push forward and offer something new to the growing market of gamers in the country, the industry is exploring new directions, particularly mobile Internet access applications and lightweight games. Signifying the seriousness of this endeavor is the fact that several of the online gaming industry leaders have begun investing in such new platforms.
Last year’s breakaway hits “Happy Farm”(开心农场) and “Plants vs. Zombies” (植物大战僵尸) signaled a shift in the market. A good number of their users do not have access or are not interested in traditional online games. “Plants vs. Zombies” follows a business model that relies on ad revenue implanted in otherwise free games. Popcap, international industry leader of games such as “Plants vs. Zombies” and “Zuma” (祖玛), announced at ChinaJoy that it was partnering with Renren.com (Facebook of China), recognizing the country as a significant market for its products.
More interestingly, industry bigwigs such as Tencent (腾讯), Shanda (盛大) and Giant(巨人) have initiated their foray into these new platforms, with Giant and Tencent cooperating on the development of “Green Journey” (绿色征途). Early this year, it was reported that Shanda was venturing into browser games. Shanda’s recent acquisition, Mochi Media, officially launched its operations in China, focusing its development resources on a smaller gaming portal. Mochi Media General Manager for China Huang Xiaohu noted that the company was in talks with advertisers over the development of flash games for the Chinese market.
More importantly, gaming industry leaders are looking into cross-platform entertainment, as seen in the case of “A Ghost blows out the Light”(鬼吹灯) and its variations on film, literature and now as an online game. Writers of novels such as “Age of Heroes 2” (英雄年代2) and “Dragon Valley” (龙之谷) have signed with Shanda to have their literary works translated into online games. Interestingly, Kingsoft (金山软件), another online gaming company, is now working on the television adaptation of its online game, “Swordsman 3” (剑网3).
All in all, cross-platform entertainment and lightweight, web-based games are the wave of the future for China’s gaming industry.