Title: Tencent to Launch Small Game Developer Platform and Advertising Alliance
Date: 2012-01-19 13:08:07
In the past year, the growth rate of the online gaming industry has slowed down, gradually bidding farewell to the era of rapid growth. Small games and social games have become the weapons for the gaming giants to prepare for a new round of battles.
In 2010, the biggest miracle in the gaming industry was undoubtedly created by "Angry Birds": with a development cost of $100,000, it was downloaded 50 million times in 2010 and generated over $8 million in revenue in the US iPhone version alone. Although it may not have the same impact as "World of Warcraft" in terms of player engagement and emotional resonance, the influence of small games and casual games on the gaming industry cannot be denied. The game life of players is composed of "Plants vs. Zombies, I can; Fruit Ninja, I understand; Save Angry Birds." At the same time, the competition among industry giants for players has escalated into a battle for developers.
After the Spring Festival in 2011, the development platforms built by gaming giants began to emerge. Following Shanda's acquisition of the small game development platform MochiMedia, NetEase's iTown platform game iGATE plan was exposed. Recently, there has been news that Tencent's small game developer platform and advertising alliance will officially launch and operate in the near future.
There is no doubt that whoever has more developer resources will have the advantage in the new round of challenges.
The reason why domestic gaming giants have shifted their focus to small games and casual games is the crazy popularity of games like "Plants vs. Zombies," "Angry Birds," and "Happy Farm." This subtle change was already evident at Chinajoy in 2010. The developers of famous casual games like "Zuma" and "Plants vs. Zombies" announced their strategic partnership with Renren.com, and giants like Giant and Shanda began to operate web games.
These subtle changes are not unfounded. The trend of lightweight games is on the rise. According to the Annual White Paper on China's Online Games, the domestic online gaming market reached 25.8 billion yuan in 2009 and is expected to exceed 30 billion yuan in 2010. With the number of players surpassing 300 million, China has become the country with the most players in the world. At the same time, online game clients are undergoing a differentiation: in addition to heavyweight clients, lightweight clients represented by web games, small games, and mobile games are also emerging. Compared to large-scale online games, these games are characterized by no need for downloads, can be played anytime, easy to pick up, and still fun.
In the eyes of industry insiders, these changes are undoubtedly closely related to the popularity of Facebook and Twitter. The demand for fragmented information in the community has been rigidly released, and most people use their spare time to pay attention to their friends' information and play small games, leading to the popularity of social games. On the other hand, the competition in the MMORPG market has become more intense, gradually entering a bottleneck period, and the gaming giants need to find new breakthroughs.
A survey from Korean players shows that "when many players evaluate a game, if it is a casual game, they will look at its first impression, but MMORPG games need to be played for a while before they can make a correct evaluation." In other words, small games and casual games are more likely to attract and retain customers at the first try. "After their first trial, they can decide whether they are interested in continuing to play."
To take the lead in the small game battle, developers are undoubtedly the resources that industry giants are competing for. So far, Shanda, NetEase, and 9City have all completed their initial layouts. Of course, the different layout methods also reflect their different development strategies.
Shanda was the first to start building a small game development platform. Shanda Games first spent $80 million to acquire the Mochi Media platform and then established Maqiu.com for domestic developers. As a game distribution and in-game advertising platform in the United States, Mochi Media's main task is to collect various small games, promote them through cooperative channels, and find advertisers to benefit game developers, the platform itself, and the channels by embedding ads in the games.
At the same time, NetEase, which has performed well in MMORPGs, also joined the battle. In December last year, NetEase's iTown platform game officially launched the iGATE plan and started accepting developer applications. Ding Yingfeng, Vice President of NetEase Games, said that NetEase plans to expand in the field of small game products and is prepared for the development of the small game market. In Ding Yingfeng's view, although the lightweight game market is growing, the needs of game users have not been met, and NetEase is based on these requirements to expand into small games.
Unlike the previous two, 9City combines the competition for developer resources with its layout in the mobile internet field. With the investment in AuroraFeint, 9City obtained a minority stake and gained the operating rights of OpenFeint in China. OpenFeint is a mobile game social platform developed by the American company AuroraFeint. Regarding the significance of introducing OpenFeint to China, Shen Guoding, Vice President and General Manager of the Wireless Internet Division of 9City, believes that it mainly assists developers in transforming their game products from standalone to "light web games," thereby increasing user stickiness, consumption rate, and playability.
In fact, in addition to those popular small games, Tencent has undoubtedly achieved the most in the field of small games. Although Tencent, currently ranked first, has a rich product line, its performance in 2010 was mainly in casual games and competitive games. Relying on the powerful interpersonal relationship platform of QQ, games like "Dungeon & Fighter," "CrossFire," "War of the Kings," "QQ Speed," and "QQ Dance" have all performed well.
According to Ding Yingfeng's analysis, although everyone is making efforts in the layout of small games, there are still significant differences. Shanda is a flash game platform mainly designed for standalone games. NetEase's iTown small game platform mainly focuses on the development of client interactive games, with more interactive games and greater openness.
It is also understood that in addition to the early layouts of industry giants, new business models are also being tried in China. "YouWorld," the 3D virtual world with the most online interactive users in China, as a Chinese version of Second Life, also plans to make efforts on open platforms. According to its CEO Ye Peng, "YouWorld" tends to be an open network platform that provides third parties and ordinary users with the ability to develop interactive applications on-site. This makes "YouWorld" similar to Apple's App Store or Facebook's open platform, with similarities in business models.
Behind the Smoke of Battle
As industry giants join the competition for small game developers, the small game market naturally becomes filled with smoke.
Industry insiders believe that once Tencent's small game developer platform goes online, it will undoubtedly have an impact on traditional small game platforms like 4399 and 7K7K, and also affect the previous layouts of Shanda, NetEase, 9City, further intensifying the gunpowder smell in the small game market.
At the beginning of 2011, the battle for small game copyrights had already begun. First, Tencent was accused of "infringing" on Maqiu, pirating thousands of small games and maliciously blocking ads. Tencent did not respond directly to these accusations. Almost at the same time, Tencent sued Beijing Beili Communication Technology Co., Ltd., claiming that its game "QQ Landlord" was counterfeited by the company. On the surface, it seems to be a copyright dispute, but in reality, it is a manifestation of the giants' battle for the small game market, starting a direct confrontation.
In addition to the business model, details such as the division and proportion of revenue sharing are also crucial. Shanda Games' Maqiu.com basically follows the model of sharing advertising revenue with developers in a 50-50 split. In NetEase's iGATE plan, in addition to announcing the establishment of an online fund, it will also share profits with developers based on game operations and interests. For different games, developers will have different profit models based on revenue sharing and online time.
What game developers are most concerned about is, of course, who can help them make money and live better. In a sense, players don't need to care about how the people behind that angry bird are doing, but the development platform needs to take responsibility for game developers. This is the key to winning the small game battle.