Coming to a small screen near you

Updated: 2014-05-08 07:52

By Yang Yang (China Daily)

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Coming to a small screen near you


Mobile games are gaining popularity in China, but developers face a multitude of challenges, as Yang Yang reports.

For Yang Zhen, 33, there are only two types of people in the world - those who love computer games and those who don't. Since his early days at college Yang has been a computer game fanatic. He started with the shoot 'em up Red Alert before moving on to the online role-playing game World of Warcraft, where he spent thousands of yuan on equipment and online tools, as well as a large part of every weekend working in collaboration with cyber friends to achieve the ultimate victory.

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But in 2013, the appeal of World of Warcraft gradually began to wane. Instead of sitting at his computer terminal after a busy day at work, the engineer at a power company in East China's Zhejiang province preferred to lie on his couch reading online fantasy novels or playing online game adaptations on his smartphone while keeping an eye on his 6-year-old daughter.

Now, Yang plays a mobile game adapted from a novel called Amazing World. He often pays 50 yuan ($8) to buy tools to improve his online combat ability, a practice known in the industry as "pay to win". Yang, who describes himself as "a reasonable player", has paid about 500 yuan in total, but real aficionados who want to reach the top level, known as VIP10, have to cough up 30,000 yuan.

"Many people are happy to pay that much for this particular game," Yang said, "but in truth, many online mobile games adapted from novels are poor quality. Domestic developers change the plots so the games are easier to play, but that makes them less interesting. The games are poor in terms of interoperability, but because they are adapted from popular online novels many fans of the books are willing to pay to play them."

Yang is one of hundreds of millions of mobile-game players in China. According to a report published by the consultancy iiMedia Research, 385 million people regularly played mobile games in 2013, a rise of 34.6 percent from the previous year, creating a market valued at 12.25 billion yuan. However, only less than 3 percent of the players paid for their entertainment. IiMedia estimates that this year, the number of players will exceed 450 million.

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