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How to create and launch an application for the Chinese market - a detailed guide

Crocoapps editorial

Crocoapps editorial

Reading time: 17 minutes

By 2022, a huge IT market, little mastered by Western players, has formed in China. Many developers would like to conquer it. But the country has its own laws and rules, which greatly complicates the entry of “outsiders”. To work legally in China, you need to know exactly how to launch a mobile application in China, what steps to go through.

In this article, we've put together helpful tips for beginners on how to break through the Great Wall of China and make a significant profit from your digital product.

Why the Chinese market is promising

Why the Chinese market is promising
  1. The financial turnover of the mobile app industry in China is already twice that of the US and Japan. In the near future, it will continue to grow, because the country's population is getting younger, and more and more active users appear.
  2. GooglePlay and AppStore do not have a monopoly on the mobile development market in China. In order to attract the best apps in China and gain a competitive edge, local Android markets offer publishers favorable placement conditions. Often they don't charge any publishing fees at all.
  3. In large cities of China, the infrastructure of mobile Internet and electronic payments is well developed. Devices work quickly, users do not have problems with transactions. The Chinese are much more likely to make purchases through e-wallets than Europeans and Americans.
  4. Yield in Chinese advertising networks can be ten times higher than in GoogleAds - you just need to know all the intricacies of their work.

What difficulties will you face

Not all mobile games popular in the West are taking over China. Developers are stopped by the following points.

  1. Bureocracy.

To launch a mobile game according to the laws of the country, the publisher must obtain at least 5 licenses and certificates. The content of a digital product is carefully scrutinized by state censorship agencies - and they may not be satisfied with any trifle. The entire approval process takes more than six months.

Difficulties in entering the Chinese games and applications market
  1. Technical difficulties.

As mentioned earlier, Chinese apps for Android can be implemented on many platforms. In total, there are more than 300 marketplaces on the market. On the one hand, such diversity is an advantage. But it also has a significant drawback. The developer will have to create different boot files and make additional settings for each store. For IOS, the situation is simpler - the AppStore works in China in much the same way as in other countries.

The second point is that the servers that store information about the digital product must be located in China. The company will incur additional costs for their launch and maintenance.

There is a third feature. In China, smartphones from local manufacturers are common, which are not often found in the west. They may have various bugs that need to be caught at the product testing stage.

  1. No usual payment methods.

The Chinese do not use Visa, MasterCard and other Western payment systems. They are used to WeChat pay and Alipay. Therefore, in order to successfully monetize the company, the developer needs to have a WeChat account and connect the SDK for withdrawing funds.

Chinese apps have other payment methods
  1. Audience specifics.

It's not enough just to translate the game into Chinese. You need to fully adapt it to local realities. The use of hieroglyphs requires a special approach to design and text content. In visual terms, it is better to use bright, catchy colors. The Chinese also love mobile games that have cartoon characters and animation effects.

How to tailor your app for local users

Adaptation of games and applications for the Chinese population

Before going to China, a number of additional works will have to be done on mobile applications.

  1. Dual language translation.

In fact, Android has three versions of Chinese - Traditional, Simplified, and Hong Kong. But the latter is very similar to the former, according to the locals. The translation of the app can only be trusted by native speakers. Even experienced foreigners may not know all the intricacies of using hieroglyphs.

  1. Providing technical support.

Chinese people like to communicate with support, and prefer to do it in voice chats. Therefore, it is worthwhile to decide in advance the issue of organizing such a service.

  1. Authorization through social networks.

Facebook, Youtube and other Google products don't work in China. Therefore, for authorization, you will have to use local social networks - WeChat, Sina Weibo, QQ, Baidu Tieba.

  1. QR codes.

QR code technology is very common in China. It is used to send links or quick authorization. Many apps come with internal QR readers and code generators.

  1. Voice control

Because of the specifics of written Chinese, Chinese people value voice functions - search, notes, chats. For typing, the Chinese usually use the Pinyin system, which translates Latin letters into hieroglyphs.

  1. Geolocation.

Apps for China often use geolocation even where, from a European point of view, it is not needed. For example, in services for listening to music and watching movies, in online games.

  1. Loading content.

If a digital product provides users with audio, video and text files, it is desirable to add the function of downloading and viewing them offline.

Android marketplaces in China

China Popular Marketplaces

It is not possible to review all app stores and popular apps in China in one article. We have selected only the most popular sites for review.

  • Myapp

The largest marketplace in the country. Owned by IT giant Tencent, the developer of WeChat and QQ. It has over 260 million monthly active users.

  • 360 Mobile Assistant

Application developed by Qihoo 360, an internet security company. According to statistics, the store is visited by about 105 million people a month.

  • Baidu Mobile Assistant

Shop from a well-known Chinese search engine. According to AppInChina, the app has 81 million monthly users.

  • China Mobile MM Store

Marketplace from China's largest mobile operator.

  • App stores from smartphone manufacturers

Shops from Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo are widespread in the Middle Kingdom, as they are pre-installed on phones by manufacturers.

In China, there are also specialized Android marketplaces - for example, games or for firmware. But they are inferior in popularity to universal sites.

3 ways to publish your app in China

A developer has several options for launching their game in China.

How to publish an app in China

Independent entry to the market

The most difficult and long way. Consists of the following steps.

  1. Creating a legal entity, opening a bank account.

It is necessary to open a company with an operating office in the country and citizens of the PRC as co-founders. These two points will be important in what follows. The Chinese government is fighting "virtual" companies and checking the physical addresses of legal entities. persons. And local residents among the founders of the company are needed in order to obtain all the necessary permits from government agencies.

  1. Learning the ISBN.

ISBN is a license issued by the State Administration of Printing and Publication of the People's Republic of China (SAPP). Before applying directly for an ISBN, a developer needs to acquire a few more documents:

  • registration as a publisher of online games - issued by the local department of industry and commerce;
  • a patent for intellectual property, or copyright for the game (copyright certificate) - you can get it through the National Copyright Administration (NCAC);
  • ICP certificate - required to obtain the right to launch game servers, issued by the Ministry of Industry and Informatization of the PRC;
  • The National Press and Publication Association (NPPA) publishing license is the most difficult document to obtain, with a lot of requirements for the applicant company.

When all the papers are collected, the publisher submits an application to the NPPA and awaits the censor's opinion. The answer should come within three months. If there are no comments from regulatory authorities, permission will be obtained and the developer will be able to move on.

In case of refusal, the application can be resubmitted, but no more than three times. Therefore, before submitting documents, it is recommended to carefully finalize the game in accordance with the requirements of the Chinese government. According to PRC law, information products must not:

  • undermine public morality and discredit state traditions;
  • promote cruelty, crime, obscenity, gambling;
  • violate the legitimate rights and interests of others;
  • threaten the social order and social stability of society;
  • contain elements of discrimination and ethnic hatred, affect ethnic traditions and customs;
  • endanger the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of the PRC;
  • harm to national security;
  • contradict the main provisions of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China.

China has special requirements for the protection of minors. Therefore, the games are prohibited: blood in any form, non-disappearing corpses, political actions, superstitions, underage marriages. Special provisions have been introduced for loot boxes - the user must be given reliable information about the probability of dropping certain items.

In turn, the Chinese government encourages games that:

  • correspond to the ideological and cultural values ​​of the country;
  • contribute to the dissemination of innovations, scientific and cultural achievements;
  • promote intercultural exchange;
  • support socialism and national unity;
  • explain and popularize the notions of the Chinese Constitution.

It's hard to say in advance whether a particular game will pass the test. Much depends on the composition of the commission, the quality of the presentation and the workload of the market at a particular point in time.

  1. Publishing in markets, connecting SDK.

Publishing and promoting an app in China is as difficult as developing it. To begin with, you will need to select several dozens of markets for placement, agree on conditions and, if possible, receive bonuses (for example, for exclusive updates or collaboration in advertising). Then comes the adaptation of the digital product for each app-store and setting up analytics. Further, based on the data obtained, a decision is made to enter new stores and review the principles of cooperation with already involved sites. If ad display is provided as monetization, at this stage, the SDK of advertising systems is introduced into the application.

  1. Connecting payments.

In order to receive income from the game, you need to implement WeChat pay and Alipay payment systems into it. The money must be deposited in a Chinese bank account and must be taxed. In the future, the earned funds can be withdrawn outside the country.

If you decide to promote your game in China on your own, it is worth remembering that all communication with the authorities takes place only in Chinese, and that the government is generally wary of foreigners. It will not work without the help of locals.

Publisher Services

Publisher services in Chinese mobile app market

With this method of entering the Celestial market, the developer gets rid of all the problems of coordinating the game or application with the PRC government authorities. He simply transfers the intellectual property rights to the Chinese publisher in full, receiving his own percentage of the profits. The publisher takes care of all interaction with the authorities and marketplaces. This is an obvious plus of the scheme for the developer. But there are also disadvantages:

  • final profit is less;
  • the creator of the game loses control over it - it will not be possible to release add-ons and expansions without the consent of the publisher;
  • A publisher usually publishes an application on sites that are convenient for him - and this is no more than 15% of the potential sales market.

Explorer company

Companies providing IT products to China

There are firms in Russia that offer services for bringing IT products to China. They take on the role of an intermediary, while leaving the rights to the application or game to the developer.

The duties of the conductor company include:

  • providing a valid legal entity and a bank account in China;
  • help with translation and adaptation;
  • collection and submission of documents to government agencies;
  • help in interacting with marketplaces;
  • marketing organization;
  • withdrawal of profits to the account of the developer company.

For their work, the intermediary takes a fixed fee or a percentage of the income of the mobile application.

Pros of conductors:

  • knowledge of laws and practical experience in obtaining licenses;
  • understanding the mentality of local residents;
  • a variety of services - from translations to advertising.

It is believed that this way of developing the Chinese market is the most reliable and profitable. Without connections and skills, a newcomer is unlikely to get all the necessary permissions from the government. And not every developer is ready to transfer all rights to their product to the publisher.


Prospects for entering the Chinese market of mobile games and applications

The game industry in China is developing at a tremendous pace. Many want to snatch a “piece of the pie” for themselves while it is relevant. But without a long preparation to break into the market will not be easy. The development of a game for China must be carried out according to special requirements so that the product can receive the appropriate certificates and licenses from the Chinese government. At the same time, millions of new active users, ample opportunities for promoting and monetizing the results of their work, will return to the creator of the application for the efforts shown. So “going east” is definitely worth it - this is the future.


Crocoapps editorial

Crocoapps editorial