China’s three largest carriers — China Unicom, China Telecom and China Mobile — haven’t been on the friendliest terms ever given that they are competitors, but today they announced at GMIC Beijing that they are teaming up to launch an initiative seeking to publish mobile games.
Mobile games have been growing rapidly in China. A report published by state-affiliated research organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) showed that as of end 2013, there were 215 million users playing mobile games in the country, up 75.9 million from the end of 2012.
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A representative announcing the three carriers’ joint initiative at GMIC today said that given the huge number of mobile game developers in China currently, many of the smaller ones — even if they have stellar games — aren’t able to stand out. The carriers are thus opening up their resources to help such publishers. The aim of this program within the first year is to help publish 100 mobile games that will each generate CNY1 million ($160,000) in annual sales.
Developers that wish to take part in the initiative will first be judged by a panel selected from the operators, with a select few qualifying. The carriers will then integrate the games on their platforms (which could take the form of pre-installs), help to promote and market them, as well as provide developers with payment services by making their SDKs available. Developers will also be given data analysis services so they can find out what they are doing well.
By teaming up to tap on the mobile gaming industry, the three carriers are perhaps showing a hint of desperation as they seek to claw back a potential revenue source that is slipping out of their grasp. China’s many fragmented app stores, and services such as messaging app WeChat, are instead reaping the benefits of distributing games and getting a cut of the revenue that they make. For example, in just three months, WeChat saw its first five games released in China pass 570 million cumulative downloads.
Earlier this month, the three telcos also teamed up to form a jointly-owned tower firm to share telecom infrastructure.
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