For the past couple of years, the Chinese App Store had recommended the popular games from anywhere around the globe. While most spots were taken by mega-sized international companies (e.g. EA, Namco, Koei, and Sega), the remaining spots usually went to the medium-sized Chinese game developers (e.g. NetEase’s “Fantasy Westward Journey”). Indie developers had only a slim chance to gain popularity.
Chinese app store is helping iOS indie developers
iOS App Store has recently undergone interesting changes to aid indie developers. A new section called “Best New Games” is live and it features indie games like “Duet Game”, “Year Walk”, and “Device 6”. Also, the Chinese App Store editors have featured increasingly more indie games (e.g. “MUSYNC”) in the recommended game list. The indie games are not sitting side-by-side with the most famous apps (e.g. Bubble Witch Saga) in the Chinese App Store’s main page.
The new section and broader editor’s choices definitely bring hope and public exposures to the indie game developers. Now, indie developers have a much fairer ground. In terms of free app store exposures, they do not need to spend huge marketing dollars to get on par with the top-tier companies.
So what are the featured indie games?
A game with simple, creative gameplay is something which indie game developers can afford to do but large game developers cannot. Indie game developers have the freedom to create a product that they like, but large game developers only have the freedom to create a low-risk product for the mass market.
Here are a few featured indie games in the Chinese app store:
- “Grow” is a game about plants. You play as a seed in the game, and the goal of the game is to move through puzzles and grow into a tree.
- “Koi” is a game about nature and zen. You play as a koi fish in the game, and the goal of the game is to dodge from obstacles and consume food to survive.
- “MUSYNC” is virtual piano game. It is somewhat like Guitar Hero Live, but the game has come out three months ahead of Guitar Hero Live.
These three games are all published by small developers. MUSYNC has stayed in the recommended game list for the longest time and app store has recommended it for seven weeks. From here, we can tell the Chinese App Store is favoring more towards indie games now.
iOS App Store has always been a miraculous place of hope for developers. The App Store has turned developers to billionaires by featuring their games. It has turned many indie developers into giants (e.g. ZeptoLab and Supercell), and it also has brought dying game developers back to life (e.g. King and Rovio). That is why game developers are trying to get as many downloads as they can in order to get the App Store editors’ attention.
Large developers can invest huge marketing dollars to drive installs, but indie developers usually do not have that kind of resource. They have to grab eyeballs with fantastic graphics and fascinating gameplay. With the new changes in place in the Chinese App Store, indie games now have a better chance to become the next big hit in China.
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Marcus is a tech entrepreneur & a father of 3 daughters.
He is the founder of Meatti, which helps mobile app developers increase app downloads using artificial intelligence.