Dots is following the path of many Western mobile games by launching a local version of its title for China, albeit with a twist. Betaworks, the company behind the highly addictive app, has become the first non-Chinese company to partner with Alibaba and put a title on its new mobile games network.
In case you’re not familiar with it, Dots challenges you to link up dots of the same color on a grid. It makes its money by selling special powers as in-app purchases — five billion games were played in the app during the first year alone.
The Chinese version will be in Mandarin and feature localized characters, including a dragonfly, but it will be just like the regular game.
The localized version of Dots will be available to China-based users of Alibaba’s Taobao app for iOS and Android. Its launch marks the first significant move from the group — which is in the midst of a US-based IPO — as it aims to muscle in on Tencent’s grip of mobile gaming in China.
Tencent, which just announced that its WeChat messaging app has reached 396 million active users, is on a tear with games. In the first three months of introducing mobile games to its Weixin chat app, it passed 570 million downloads, while Bloomberg reports that its revenue from mobile games tripled from the previous quarter to reach $289 million.
Global smash Candy Crush Saga is one game on Weixin, which is known as WeChat worldwide, after Tencent snagged in a China exclusive. That makes Alibaba’s move to lock-up Dots on similar terms an interesting one.
Alibaba announced its mobile gaming network back in January, and the service runs across Taobao and Laiwang, its direct rival to WeChat. It will be interesting to see which other titles that Alibaba makes a move for as it bids to boost the appeal of its mobile apps and increase revenue. Tencent is actively hiring new recruits to sniff out games licensing deals in the US and elsewhere.
Tencent and Alibaba aren’t the only ones in China with an eye on the mobile gaming pie. The country’s three operators recently teamed up to start their own mobile gaming network.
Headline image via Dora Tang / Shutterstock