De­spite crit­i­cism at home, Chi­nese mo­bile game wins many con­sumers in mar­kets abroad

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - WANG ZHICHENG / FOR CHINA DAILY

BEI­JING — King of Glory, China’s megahit mo­bile game, faces a do­mes­tic back­lash over young play­ers’ ad­dic­tion, but its march to the global mar­ket goes on un­abated.

The mul­ti­player on­line bat­tle arena, or MOBA game, has over 200 mil­lion reg­is­tered users, with 50 mil­lion play­ing daily.

It was the world’s high­est­gross­ing mo­bile game in May, ac­cord­ing to app mar­ket data provider App An­nie.

Now Ten­cent, de­vel­oper of the game, in­tends to repli­cate the suc­cess be­yond the Chi­nese main­land.

Launched in Tai­wan and Viet­nam late last year, King of Glory is the most down­loaded mo­bile game in both mar­kets, ac­cord­ing to Ten­cent.

It was also warmly re­ceived in Thai­land and South Korea, where it was re­leased ear­lier this year.

The game will hit the United States and Eu­rope in the se­cond half of the year, said Gao Min, brand man­ager at Ten­cent in charge of the game’s over­seas pro­mo­tion.

The English ver­sion was put on­line in Turkey ear­lier this year, and topped Ap­ple’s app store and Google play’s game down­load rank­ings there.

“We are fully con­fi­dent of the mar­ket re­sponse in Eu­rope,” Gao said.

Ally of he­roes

Ger­man jour­nal­ist Finn Mayer re­cently down­loaded the game and is learn­ing the dy­nam­ics.

“I al­ready got a bet­ter sword,” he said. “It’s very much like League of Leg­ends in Eu­rope and the good old Ja­panese RPGs (role play­ing games), in­clud­ing a cute fe­male manga voice.”

He be­lieves the game has great po­ten­tial but faces strong com­pe­ti­tion from the US League of Leg­ends.

While Asian users are fa­mil­iar with the game’s his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural back­ground, it will be a more chal­leng­ing task to win over Western play­ers, Gao ac­knowl­edged.

The game fea­tures a large num­ber of he­roes from Chi­nese his­tory or lit­er­a­ture, such as the in­vin­ci­ble war­lord Lyu Bu from the Three King­doms pe­riod (AD 220-280). These char­ac­ters strike a chord among Asian users who are much in­flu­enced by Chi­nese cul­ture, but may not have the same ap­peal to Western gamers.

To cater to for­eign tastes, Ten­cent has set its sights on bring­ing some iconic Western he­roes, such as Bat­man, into the game, said Gao.

In ad­di­tion, im­age and sound qual­ity will be im­proved with back­ground mu­sic from Os­car-win­ning com­poser Hans Zim­mer. The du­ra­tion of a sin­gle game will be re­duced to suit the habits of for­eign mo­bile users.

Side-ef­fects

De­spite, or per­haps be­cause of, its huge pop­u­lar­ity, King of Glory has re­cently found it­self in con­tro­versy at home. Ten­cent saw its mar­ket val- Kin­gofGlory

cos­tumes at a con­test site of Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

Kin­gofGlory ue shrink by $14 bil­lion as its shares slumped 4.13 per­cent in Hong Kong on July 4, af­ter Peo­ple’s Daily ac­cused the game of in­ject­ing “neg­a­tive en­ergy” into so­ci­ety.

A teenager was re­ported to have suf­fered a stroke af­ter play­ing the game for 40 hours non­stop, while another was re­ported to have stolen money to buy ex­pen­sive add-ons, ac­cord­ing to the Peo­ple’s Daily com­men­tary.

The com­pany started to limit mi­nors’ play­ing time Tues­day, cap un­der­age users’ con­sump­tion and re­in­force the real name sys­tem.

Over­seas, Ten­cent will fol­low lo­cal reg­u­la­tions and a game clas­si­fi­ca­tion sys­tem is usu­ally in place, Gao told Xin­hua. China has no such sys­tem yet.

The pop­u­lar­ity of MOBA games has given those who want to boost China’s soft power food for thought.

King of Glory is at the fore­front of China’s boom­ing mo­bile game in­dus­try, which pock­eted 82 bil­lion yuan ($12 bil­lion) in 2016, up 59.2 per­cent year-on-year, ac­cord­ing to the China Au­dio-Video and Dig­i­tal Pub­lish­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Games are a uni­ver­sal lan­guage that ev­ery­one can ac­cept and play,” said Yu Guom­ing, ex­ec­u­tive dean of the School of Jour­nal­ism and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Bei­jing Nor­mal Univer­sity. He be­lieves games are ideal prod­ucts for cul­tural ex­port as they con­tain “lit­tle ide­ol­ogy”.

Fan Ying of the In­sti­tute for Cul­tural In­dus­tries at Pek­ing Univer­sity es­ti­mates game ex­ports are grow­ing at around 60 per­cent per year, lead­ing the over­all growth of Chi­nese cul­tural ex­ports.

China tops the world in ex­port of cul­tural prod­ucts,

Games are a uni­ver­sal lan­guage that ev­ery­one can ac­cept and play.” Yu Guom­ing, ex­ec­u­tive dean of the School of Jour­nal­ism and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Bei­jing Nor­mal Univer­sity

but the per­cent­age with in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, such as films and games, is quite low, ac­cord­ing to Zhang Xiaom­ing, a re­searcher at UN­ESCO.

But de­mand is ris­ing as shown by the re­cent frenzy for Chi­nese web nov­els. The most pop­u­lar gen­res are Wuxia (mar­tial he­roes), Xianxia (im­mor­tal he­roes) and Xuan­huan (fan­tasy fea­tur­ing ad­ven­tures and wars), which are also mostly fea­tured in on­line games like King of Glory.

The gap be­tween de­mand and sup­ply has long been filled by de­vel­oped coun­tries like the United States.

For in­stance, Kungfu Panda is made by the US, said Huang Bin, a re­searcher at the State Coun­cil De­vel­op­ment Re­searcher Cen­ter. “Dis­ney­land is home to all princesses from all coun­tries.”

For Huang, China has ex­cel­lent cul­ture, but lacks the abil­ity to pack­age, pro­mote and make a profit from it.

King of Glory is pro­vid­ing a new par­a­digm. Apart from in­tro­duc­ing Western char­ac­ters, the team will fine-tune lo­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics and pro­vide strong cus­tomer sup­port to ac­cel­er­ate the game’s glob­al­iza­tion, said Gao.

“We have a team han­dling more than 50 lan­guages and co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments with part­ners and dis­trib­u­tors across the globe,” he said. “We have spent a lot of time and money to im­prove our prod­uct and please our play­ers.”

LONG WEI / FOR CHINA DAILY

A restau­rant in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, uses tered users. to at­tract more cus­tomers. The game has more than 200 mil­lion regis-

Peo­ple in in Shaox­ing,

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