Coming to a small screen near you

Updated: 2014-05-08 07:52

By Yang Yang (China Daily)

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The rewards for piracy are high; an unofficial version of a popular game can earn copycats 10 million yuan a month, a figure that far exceeds any available punishment for copyright infringement where fines range from tens of thousands of yuan to hundreds of thousands.

"Recently, though, we have seen the government expend unprecedented efforts to combat infringement. That will guarantee a better development environment for the country's creative industry," said China Mobile Games' Xiao in reference to moves that have seen the forced closure of many websites that provided free downloads of e-books, movies and music.

Xue Yongfeng, a senior consultant at the industry information provider Analysis International, said a growing awareness of IP rights in China in recent years has resulted in an improvement in the way infringement is dealt with.

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"It's actually an inevitable process for the development of the mobile-game industry. It means that some low-quality content providers and copycats will disappear, thus leaving room for high-quality developers," Xue said.

Tianjin Pictograph's Yu believes it won't be long before the number of IP cases is reduced significantly. "I think that in two years the whole environment will be much better," he said.

Distribution problems

While many market players are concerned about IP rights, Chen Qi, chief operating officer of the developer FunPlus Game, sees other problems looming.

"Technically, it's not difficult for other developers to copy our products, but the key competitiveness of our games lies in our 'soft power' - how we operate the games and conduct community management, which are invisible factors," Chen said.

The company's Family Farm and Royal Story are popular on Facebook. In terms of daily active users, FunPlus ranks sixth after companies such as King Digital Entertainment, which developed Candy CrushSaga, and its main markets are Europe, North America and southern Asia. Although Facebook is unavailable in China, the huge market potential for mobile games is proving very attractive to FunPlus.

"What is complicated is how to distribute our products. There are many big and small operators in China, such as iOS App Store, Android Market, Android App Marketplace 91 and Baidu. Instead of the two major stores in North America and Europe - iOS App Store and Google Play - you have to negotiate with all these operators individually to get them to distribute your products, which is really time consuming. Then afterwards, you have to spend a lot of time and energy managing your products on those platforms," Chen said.

"You also have to negotiate with the three mobile service providers, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, individually, because each has different standards and operation fees. It's very complicated. However, the Chinese market is really attractive, and we will officially enter the mobile game market next year," he said.

Whatever the problems, China's mobile-game market will continue to grow, according to Analysis International's Xue: "In 2016, the whole industry will enter a stage of high-speed development. The entire market will tend to be stable and reasonable. Big market players will emerge and that will automatically result in many of the problems being solved."

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