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西方手机游戏在日本编辑本段回目录

日本是当下全球iOS和Android游戏收益最高的市场,其盈利性甚至令美国也黯然失色。很显然,这个市场对西方游戏开发者来说具有极大的潜力——但同时也极少人能够在此成功。

据App Annie 2013年报告所示,本土产品在日本市场占主流,该市场前十大iOS/Android游戏下载榜单中,有9款是由日本生产,《Temple Run 2》是该榜单唯一的西方制造,而最具盈利性的十大游戏榜单中,却是清一色的本土产品。

我有许多西方同事针对这一现象认为,这主要归咎于语言和文化壁垒,以及该国强大的电子游戏行业。这些当然是重要因素,但也不乏其他变量——西方开发者应该妥善解决这些问题,才能极大提高在日本的成功率。

了解日本智能手机生态圈

据调查机构MMRI数据所示,在2013年末,智能手机在日本的1.18亿手机中已经占比42.8%,其中iOS占比35.6%,Android则占比63%。这与其他市场并没有太大不同,但从以下数据可以看出,日本智能手机用户相当独特:

Japan mobile users(from app-support)

Japan mobile users(from app-support)

*应用内置支付占据主流:比起西方用户,日本游戏玩家更愿意在自己所爱的游戏中付费。我统计了日本有20%的手机社交游戏玩家曾经在应用中付费,而西访游戏玩家的这一付费比例不足20%。这在很大程度上归功于多数日本人最初是通过手机而非PC上网,日本顶级移动运营商Docomo推出了上网套餐是每月300日元(约3美元)。所以与多数西方人不同的是,日本人为自己的手机内容付费并没有什么压力。因此,我统计有超过90%的日本手机游戏收益来自应用内置付费渠道。(而日本的付费下载收益可能占比不足5%)

*社交网络深度绑定手机游戏:日本手机游戏兴起于2006年,主要基于功能性手机,这些游戏大多整合了玩家社交网络。其中两大领军力量DeNA和Gree最初诞生于网络,会在游戏中绑定好友邀请。在智能手机时代,以LINE(在亚洲用户达1.5亿)为代表的新兴力量进入了市场。(KakaoTalk最初始于韩国,目前已经在日本站稳脚跟)

对西方开发者来说,这些见解都有可能为其在日本的游戏发行工作指明道路。

专注于社交网络绑定、推广和客服支持

因为日本当地的社交网络很大,对手机游戏的发展甚为关键,因此西方开发者有必要将其整合到自己的游戏中。正如Twitter和Facebook在全球的影响力一样,日本社交网络也是一种推动自然病毒发展的强大方法。日本玩家尤其喜欢在手机游戏中与好友竞争,所以绑定SNS积分排行榜是一个增加粘性和鼓励自然推广的有效方式。与之相同,积极的客服支持也很关键:在日本,当手机游戏出现漏洞或者问题时,人们会快速通过该国社交网络传播其缺陷。如果你不能立即平熄用户的怒火,就会看到留存率快速下降。

社交网络也是推动日本市场盈利性的重要因素,与西方不同的是,日本玩家很乐意为那些能够让自己获得优势的IAP付费。另一点与西方市场不同的是,日本玩家还喜欢协作性的IAP内容——好友可以一起购买虚拟道具来增加团队的力量。

这就引出了我要说的下一点:

使用分析来确定和服务不同的玩法——用户类型

虽然西方游戏的多数收益是来自最具竞争性的玩家,但日本开发者则因迎合不同的玩家类型而收获更高的ARPU(每付费用户收益):除了成就型玩家,这还包括我所谓的探索家、社交家和杀手型玩家。每种类型玩家都有自己的玩法和盈利动机,要鉴别出每种玩家类型就不可避免地要使用分析工具。(游戏邦注:比如,有一名玩家邀请了大量好友加入游戏,那么他很可能属于社交家类型,并且更可能购买赠予玩家的礼物)分析工具还可以追踪某一IAP道具是否成功,以便你据此调整价格和功能。你可能会想到,这种战略还需要针对不同玩家类型提供多种多样的IAP,所以我强烈建议通过云服务来部署这一战略。

你可能已经发现了,这两个要点的前提都是你的游戏并不仅仅是针对日本玩家进行本土化,但是拥有日本导向的分析工具、社交媒体营销服务,以及客服人员。这就引向了我的最后一个要点:

与本地发行/部署合作伙伴联手

虽然多数西方游戏没有在日本获得成功,但需要指出指出的是:日本前三大热门外国应用分别是《Clash of Clans》、《Candy Crush Saga》以及《Hay Day》,它们在日本的成功经验或许可为其他开发者所借鉴:

King.com是首家在日本电视中播放广告的西方发行商,它邀请了一位知名的日本女演员代言《Candy Crush Saga》广告。而日语版《Clash of Clans》和《Hay Day》的发布则获得了日本电信巨头软银和GungHo(游戏邦注:它是日本五大手机游戏公司之一,另外4家公司分别是Colopl、Line、Namco Bandai和世嘉)的资金和资源支持。多数西方开发商没有King这种财力向日本电视投放广告,所以跟随Supercell的步伐,与本土合作伙伴联手也许是最好的途径。

要知道,King.com和Supercell已经是全球手机游戏市场的佼佼者了,它们还是同日本公司合作进军该市场。鉴于日本作为游戏之国的悠久历史,我相信其他西方开发者能够在此找到与之具有相同游戏理念的本土合作伙伴(尽管其中不乏沟通障碍)。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,作者:Masanari Arai)

The secrets to monetizing Western mobile games in Japan

Masanari Arai

Masanari Arai is CEO of Kii Corporation

Japan is now the best-monetized market for iOS and Android games in the world (as VentureBeat recently reported), eclipsing even the United States. Clearly, this market has great potential for Western game developers — but so far, few of them have had much success there.

Indeed, according to App Annie’s 2013 report, the local products dominate the Japanese market Nine of the top 10 most downloaded iOS/Android games were made in Japan, with Temple Run 2 the lone Western entry; worse, none of Japan’s 10 best monetized games are from the West.

Many of my Western colleagues assume this deficit is due to language and cultural barriers and the country’s historically strong video game industry. And while those are certainly factors, other variables are at play — and Western developers need to better address these to greatly increase their odds of succeeding in Japan.
Understanding the Japanese smartphone ecosystem

According to research firm MMRI, in late 2013, smartphones represented 42.8 percent of the total 118 million mobile phones in Japan, with iOS taking 35.6 percent of that segment, and Android dominating with 63 percent. This is not too dissimilar to other markets, but below these numbers, Japanese smartphone owners are quite unique:

In-app payments predominate: Japanese gamers are much more likely to make in-app payments in their favorite games than their counterparts are in the West. I estimate that 20 percent of mobile social gamers in Japan make in-app payments, while the figure among Western mobile gamers is generally under 5 percent. This is largely because most Japanese first began using the Web on their phones, not a PC, and Japan’s top mobile carrier Docomo launched Internet access as a ¥300 Yen (about $3) monthly purchase option. So unlike most Westerners, Japanese are quite comfortable paying for premium content on and for their phones. Consequently, I’d estimate more than 90 percent of mobile gaming revenue in Japan derives from in-app payments. (Paid downloads in Japan, by contrast, probably represents less than 5 percent revenue of the market.)

Social networks are deeply integrated with mobile games: Japanese mobile games began emerging around 2006, based around feature phones, and these games were largely integrated with gamer social networks. Two of the leading networks, DeNa and Gree, first began on the Web, and integrated friend invites into its games. In the smartphone era, new entrants have emerged, led by Line, which now has about 150 million users across Asia. It recently added games (about 10) to its network. (KakaoTalk, originally from Korea, has also gained a foothold in Japan.)

For Western developers, each of these insights strongly suggest several key points to publishing games in Japan.
Focus on social-network based integration, promotion, and customer support

Because Japan’s local social networks are so large and essential to mobile games, it’s crucial that Western developers integrate them into their titles. As with Twitter and Facebook worldwide, Japan’s social networks are a powerful way of driving organic viral growth. Japanese players particularly enjoy competing in mobile games with their friends, so adding an SNS-integrated leaderboard is an excellent way to engagement and encourage organic promotion. For similar reasons, aggressive customer support is also essential: In Japan, when a mobile game is buggy or frustrating, people will quickly communicate its failings across the country’s social networks. If you don’t immediately quell user anger, retention rates will rapidly drop.

Social networks are also important for driving monetization in Japan, because unlike the West, Japanese gamers are quite willing to make an IAP which will give them an edge against their competitors. Also unlike the West, Japanese players also enjoy cooperative IAPs — virtual items friends can buy together to enhance their efforts as a team.

Which brings me to my next point:
Use analytics to identify and serve several paying-customer types

While Western games tend to earn the most revenue from their most competitive players, Japanese developers generate higher average revenue per user (ARPU) by catering to other player types: In addition to the Achiever, this include the categories I identify as Explorer, Socializer, and Killer. Each has a different style of play and motive for monetization, and analytics are indispensable for identifying each. (For instance, a player who invites a lot of friends to join a game likely fits in the Socializer category and is probably more inclined to purchase player-to-player gifts.) Analytics can also track how successful a specific IAP item is and help you adjust price and functionality accordingly. As you might imagine, this strategy also requires offering a wide array of different IAPs for different categories of player, so deploying these via cloud is also highly recommended.

As you probably noted already, both of these points assume your game will not only be localized for Japanese players but have the backing of Japanese-fluent analytics, social media marketing, and customer support staff. And this takes me to my final point:
Work with local publishing/deployment partners

While most Western games fail to gain traction in Japan, it’s important to note the exceptions: At the moment, the top three foreign applications in Japan are Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Hay Day, and their success in Japan should be instructive to other developers: King.com is the first Western publisher to advertise on Japanese television, promoting Candy Crush Saga with a spot starring a well-known local actress. The Japanese launch of Clash of Clans and Hay Day (from Finnish company Supercell) was supported by investment and resources from Japanese telecom giant Softbank and GungHo, one of Japan’s top five mobile game companies. (The other four: COLOPL, Line, Namco Bandai, and Sega.) Most Western developers will not have the money for a Japan-wide TV spot like King, so following Supercell’s lead and working with local partners is probably the best route. Ideally, this also includes a partnership with local handset carriers, who can assist with promotion and monetization; and Japan-based cloud services, for deployment, user management, and analytics.

To be sure, King.com and Supercell are already worldwide market leaders in mobile gaming, and they are best positioned to partner with Japanese companies. But the opportunity is too great for other Western developers to ignore. And thanks to Japan’s long history as a game-centric nation, I believe they will find many ready partners who, despite any communication barriers, speak the same language of gaming.(source:venturebeat


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