Chinese developers are now cropping up as some of the top applications on Facebook, with their native Chinese versions sometimes outstripping the English versions. A quick look:
|Rank in DAU
||1 Sep 2009 DAU
||29 Sep 2009 DAU
||% Growth in DAU
||開心農場 (Happy Harvest)
|| Elex Technology Co., Ltd.
||1.067 mil DAU
||2.14 mil DAU
|| TwoFishes Interactive
||0.654 mil DAU
||1.855 mil DAU
||+ 1.2 million
||0.203 mil DAU
||1.155 mil DAU
Elex has proven success on international social network sites, with the #1 application on two of China’s biggest social nets (kaixin.com and xiaonei.com which was renamed Ren Ren) and the #3 application on one of Russia’s largest social networks (vkontakte.ru), according to a note posted by an Elex business development partner. There is an English language version of Happy Harvest – which seems to have stalled at 181,000 DAU – but it’s the Chinese language version of the game that has hit #12, showing that even though FarmVille and Farm Town have been successful, there is still room for success if you can provide a well-translated version of the game.
TwoFishes Interactive doesn’t appear to have other games developed, but their corporate site (2fishes.com) appears to be registered in China. Also extremely interesting to note is that Elex and TwoFishes actually have a cross-promotion effort in place with a toolbar across their top two applications:
If the two developers are not co-owned, it points to an interesting option for small developers to band together and cross-promote other games in a similar fashion to the way Zynga and Playfish jump-start their new titles and portfolio.
Rekoo also has its root on Chinese social networks like xianoi.com and 51.com. Animal Paradise may not be completely ready for US audiences as several translations are a bit rough (“You upgraded to Level 1 and was rewarded you 1 Black Pigbaby”) but I’ve been on the other side of the coin and realize how incredibly difficult it is to get good localized translations for games in place – this is going to be a key point as developers expand internationally. What it does have is tried and true sim game play of getting baby animals, raising them, and then selling them. The Zoo Tycoon theme is pretty universal and should do well with the Facebook/Casual game demographic. In addition to develops their own farm sim game, Sunshine Ranch, which just hit 400,000 DAU but growth is slow and the farm sim genre is a bit over-crowded.
Social Game Competition is Global
The wave of Chinese developers is a sign that more competition in social games is coming. Developers successful in markets where Facebook is not the dominate platform, like Russia and Germany, will begin tapping the US markets. Likewise I would expect US developers to begin exploring the international markets. Translations will be as critical as servers for success – and that takes investment. From my experience at both Oberon and Power Soccer, crowd sourcing is cost-effective, but quality always suffers. Paid translation services are better, but even they often miss subtle nuances. Because a poor translation has the opportunity to be magnified many times over across social networks, it will be critical to have on-staff translations and partner in the local markets developers want to tackle.