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This article was published on June 15, 2009

How to N-Gage with Chinese youngsters

How to N-Gage with Chinese youngsters
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Pieter-Paul lives in Beijing where he works for +8* (plus eight star), the leading cross-market and cross-culture innovation consulting comp Pieter-Paul lives in Beijing where he works for +8* (plus eight star), the leading cross-market and cross-culture innovation consulting company about Asia’s telecom and Internet. Before moving to China he graduated on the internationalization of the Chinese Internet industry. Besides writing about himself in third person Pieter-Paul is also co-author of the award winning China tech-blog MOBINODE.

A few months ago Karl Weaver, Principal at Newport Technologies, shared his research on Shanzhaiji (山寨机), the so called “Bandit Cell Phones” at Mobile Monday Beijing #28. In his presentation (highly recommended) he briefly mentioned the Playstation Portable Mobile Phone which is obviously not developed by Sony itself. This PSP phone –that among others includes a Nintendo games emulator – is a good example of the strategy of Shanzhaiji manufacturers that have a wild ambition to innovate and endlessly cater the needs of their customers.


Entertainment focused phones such as the PSP knock-off are targeted at young users that primarily live in 2nd, 3rd or 4th tier cities or rural areas. In these areas hanging out in Internet cafes playing MMOs and chatting with friends is one of the cheapest forms of entertainment around (3RMB an hour). Considering the reasons for popularity of the ubiquitous Internet cafes the need for mobile gaming (read: time-killing) devices seems logical.

This weekend I decided to do a little field research on Shanzhaiji game devices tailored for the young and bored. Keep reading for a few of my findings:

The “Auto Agvolving Nseries“:


A folding gaming phone that comes with boom boxes, 2 screens (1 touch) and a graphical equalizer:


While currently these devices offer mostly single player games, the future of mobile gaming will be social gaming or multiplayer games. Already companies such as Troodon are making good money with mobile MMOs in China. But there are some elements withholding these particular games to catch on and although 3G has been launched the mobile gaming market will not explode overnight. The main reason for this is that none of the 3G operators offer a flat-fee data plan yet. As we learned from the Japanese mobile ecosystem, flat-fee data plans are the main catalyst for 3G and thus the mobile gaming market to catch-on.

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