Are Chinese More Addicted than Westerners?
Parking Wars received a lot of attention for its initial success but has since been outpaced. Happy Farm hit next and still continues its mainstream popularity, now reaching 27m DAU in China and basically matching FarmVille’s 29m DAU on Facebook. China’s enthusiasm for social games at least matches and arguably exceeds that seen on Facebook.
China’s social games are similar to those on Facebook in terms of themes: the top 10 includes farming, aquarium, pet, and restaurant games. However, further analysis yields some unique characteristics in terms of the developer industry, competitiveness, and popularity.
#1 Happy Farm
It’s hard to overstate Happy Farm’s popularity. In addition to the real deal, there are countless copycats and countless games have adopted the addictive mechanics. Chinese versions are more competitive than their Western counterparts: they allow users to steal and add worms and weeds to friends’ farms.
#2 House Buying
Kaixin001’s House Buying innovatively combines a real estate section, #1 Happy Farm, and #4 Parking Wars into a single game with a common currency. It is by far the most popular game on Kaixin001.
#3 Happy Aquarium
Happy Aquarium is a combination of Happy Farm underwater and a pet game. Fish games are rapidly growing both in China and on Facebook.
#4 Parking Wars
Parking Wars is copied directly from the Facebook title of the same name. It sparked the social game craze in China and remains popular to this day.
#5 Renren Restaurant
Renren Restaurant is similar to Café World on Facebook. Its relative sophistication—3D graphics, high social interaction, rich features—indicates the future of China social games.
#6 Slave Manor
Slave Manor is a copy of the original Facebook game Friends for Sale! While in decline, this highly socially interactive game remains fairly popular on Qzone.
#7 Building One
In Building One users virtually live, work (e.g., by opening a hairdresser or spa), and socialize together in a single tall tower.
#8 Wonder Hospital
In Wonder Hospital, users heal patients to acquire money and fame. The game includes innovative and controversial ads.
#9 Animal Paradise
In Animal Paradise, users raise and collect products from animals, a combination of the popular farm and pet game formulas.
#10 Small Games
Small Games is a collection of classic games ranging from Tetris to Air Hockey. The games are quick, simple, and mildly socially interactive.
5 Trends in Chinese Social Games
It is without a doubt a very competitive market, but trends have emerged that developers can leverage towards success:
- The Chinese game development industry is fragmented, though it is undergoing consolidation and may see major Western developers enter soon.
- Game themes and mechanics translate across China and Facebook.
- Chinese social games tend to lag behind Facebook. Generally, popular games on Facebook are copied and become popular in China.
- Chinese games are more competitive than their Facebook counterparts: status and stealing play a large role.
- Farm games are far and away the most popular titles in China and worldwide.
China, the only country in Asia where people have more online friends than offline friends, leads the way, but all of Asia is adopting social games with gusto. In Japan, farm games from Chinese developers are the top applications. In India, 20,000 “farmers” launched a campaign for FarmVille to offer an Indian flag. The social gaming revolution is still relatively young and Asia continues to be at the forefront.
Kai Lukoff (@klukoff) contributed to this post.