From the beginning it was very important for Fingersoft to publish the game in China with minimal workload and not to release the source code to anyone. With these requirements, MyGamez single SDK model became the obvious choice. MyGamez provided the MySDK and localisation design and Fingersoft team has done the integration and implemented the localisation. Integrating MySDK was approximately a one week job and there has been very few updates since. Overall, calculating by man-hours and including all the content updates, as well as the culturalized Hill Climb Racing China Edition, Fingersoft’s investment after 1.5 years is still within multiples of 10k Euros only.
MyGamez localisation and marketing teams carefully evaluated the game and believed that its original charm would work well in China and it was hence published with minimal localisation, including just translation and price level adjustment and other minor changes. It has since became a premium example showcasing that excessive localisation and culturalization are not always needed for succeeding in China. Good and fun gameplay is universal and Chinese consumers have appetite for wide variety of graphic styles.
By the time MyGamez released Hill Climb Racing in China in Mid 2014, the game had been available in other markets for nearly two years, which is a very long for casual mobile game. In fact, the most successful foreign titles in Chinese Android stores today besides Hill Climb Racing are all fairly old, including Temple Run, Fruit Ninja, Subway Surfers and so on. Another key take away here is that by the time we released the legit version, the Chinese Android markets were already flooded with various Hill Climb Racing pirate versions. Piracy will always be there and the best way to tackle it is to provide the stores with a legit localised version and request them to take down the pirates. Tracking down the illegal apk versions in every single major Android store, and getting them removed, is a continuous effort that a good China publisher must provide.
Hill Climb Racing was not an instant hit in China, but generated enough downloads to prove its ability to monetise without advertisements. Here lies a very important point to remember: if the game doesn’t generate revenue, it will not get continuous featuring from the store owners and store featuring is the single most important user acquisition method in China Android market. Hill Climb Racing free2play monetisation design can be considered rather soft, but it still monetises well in China. In fact, the IAP ARPU in China is higher than in any other market, despite low income level in China. Another important learning point here: Chinese Android users are willing to pay for in app purchases, much more than your average Google Play users. The Android users are estimated to generated about 70% of the total mobile gaming revenue in China. Over the first six months of publishing, with MyGamez persistent marketing effort, the monthly downloads for Hill Climb Racing grew from few hundred thousands to over one million. Content updates every two months on average were crucial for the further rapid growth and during the Chinese New Year in February 2015 the game surpassed the milestone of 3 million new downloads in single month. The growth has since continued strong and today the record for monthly new downloads is already past 7 million! The game has reached top rankings in all the biggest Android stores, including #8 in Tencent store, #20 in Qihoo360 store and #33 in Baidu store and so on (all in overall games category) and has become one of the most successful foreign mobile game titles in China. All this with minimal effort to developer!
Despite the huge numbers, we believed that there is still room for more growth and that’s why we came up with Hill Climb Racing China Edition. It is basically a re-skinned version of the original game, with the racing taking place in famous Chinese scenic spots and with vehicles that appeal that are funny and topical for Chinese users, in more Chinese graphic style. The new game is a co-production between MyGamez and Fingersoft, with MyGamez producing the ideas and graphics and Fingersoft team again taking care of the implementation. In addition to the Chinese style levels and cars, we have also introduced some new features to improve the key metrics. The China Edition has gotten a great start, co-existing in all the stores together with the original HCR, and despite millions of downloads it has not cannibalised the user base of the original game. By now, thanks to the new features, the ARPU of China Edition is already higher compered to the original game, even though it still has a lot less content to play and pay for. We continue working closely with Fingersoft team to further optimise the game for Chinese market and build features that can bring in more revenue.