Chinese Internet titan Tencent has partnered up with game developer Crowdstar to launch its popular “Top Girl” title in China in hopes of attracting the young female gaming audience in the world’s most populous nation.
Crowdstar and Tencent announced their partnership back in May. The deal has brought two titles over to China – “Top Girl”, which achieved top grossing status in the US, and “Tower Town”. Top Girl actually arrived on the Chinese iOS App Store as a paid app a couple weeks ago, but Tencent has now officially launched the game by making it a free application. The game will be marketed to mainland China, as well as Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Partnering up with Tencent has been a great experience for Crowdstar so far. Randy Lee, the company’s head of global business development, told TNW in an interview: “I couldn’t have asked for a better working relationship in terms of planning the launches.”
As China’s largest Internet company and a leader in the casual gaming space there, Tencent was a natural partner for Crowdstar. In its most recent quarterly earnings, Tencent reported modest growth to $1.8 billion in revenue. It has saturated the Chinese online population with its QQ service, is seeing rapid growth from its WeChat messaging app and has captured a 30 percent share of the social networking service and Web gaming market.
The two don’t currently have any firm plans for more titles, but they’re in talks about future projects. Lee noted that Asia is a key area of focus for Crowdstar, and China plays a significant part. However, he expects gaining a foothold in the Chinese market will happen over time.
“I see China as a marathon and not a sprint. As a Western company going in, it’s going to take time,” he said.
Crowdstar believes the girl gaming market in China is untapped. The dominant gaming genres in China are targeted toward males, with popular titles based around PvP and MMO features. Lee acknowledged that it’s still early to be targeting the young female audience, but he sees substantial potential in the niche market.
Outside of China, the company is looking to Korea and Japan for growth in Asia. It has already launched Top Girl on Android in Korea, and it is actively exploring opportunities in Japan. According to Lee, Crowdstar is waiting for the right title at the right time with the right partner.
Though Crowdstar has also invested energy in Russia and Latin America, it has placed its bets on Asia because the smartphone market and monetization potential seems more developed there. Lee described Japan and Korea as “gamer markets”. China, on the other hand, still has a ways to go, but the sheer size of its market and its growing smartphone population give it plenty of potential. Monetization, however, is an issue there, especially for developers on Android.
Lee says it’s too early to tell exactly how the Chinese version of Top Girl is doing, but he did say the company is “pretty encouraged” by its initial reception.
Crowdstar raised $11.5 million in a second round of funding earlier this year to help it pivot away from Facebook and toward mobile social games. Considering that Facebook isn’t even available in China, the country seems like a natural place for the developer to succeed in its transition.