Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announces plans to branch out into mobile gaming

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba announces plans to branch out into mobile gaming

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is making a move into mobile gaming, as the company laid out plans for its strategy today, relayed to TNW by a spokeswoman. It is setting up its own mobile gaming platform in the near future as it seeks to disrupt the current situation in which it claims Chinese Internet giant Tencent is monopolizing.

This no doubt comes as Tencent has been stepping up integration of its games into its wildly-popular messaging service WeChat (users in China get a version known as Weixin). In the first three months of introducing mobile games into Weixin, they passed 570 million downloads. A report by Chinese Android app store Wandoujia last year also noted that Weixin was disrupting mobile games in China.

Alibaba is providing its mobile gaming platform service for free to game developers who work on single-player standalone games, but only for the first year. Any revenue the game makes will be split into 70 percent takings for the game developer, a 20 percent cut to Alibaba and a 10 percent donation to rural education.

In addition, game developers and players can make use of Alibaba’s unified account — where they can manage payments, virtual currency, statistics and also tap on the company’s Aliyun operating system.

Alibaba has also pledged to “fully support” mobile games created on its platform by, for example, marketing and distributing games to its 700 million users on shopping site Taobao.

As Alibaba makes a move into mobile gaming, it remains to be seen how much of an impact it can make, given that Tencent has already had a huge headstart in this and a history of developing games via its online multiplayer games on Web portal QQ Games.

However, Alibaba is extremely keen to make its presence felt in mobile — CEO Jonathan Lu already pledged last year to continue its string of big investments as it maintains focus on improving its services for mobile, and the company has been upping efforts to promote its chat app, wooing mobile shoppers with free data and even giving free smartphones to retailers in China. Games are but another aspect of Alibaba’s push into mobile, and it will be interesting to see how much it can impact the industry.

As Tencent pushes its WeChat games overseas, Alibaba’s mobile gaming strategy could also see it pave an easier way for international growth — at a time that the company is said to be considering a public listing, though CEO Jonathan Lu has said that the location of the IPO is yet to be decided.

Headline image via Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

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