Monetizing and Growing Hyper-Casual Games in the Asian Market [Panel Recap]

Our Director of Business Development Sumit Mahawar was part of an exciting panel at the Hyper Games Conference, along with JoyPac, AdTiming, and Tenjin. Here's what he said about monetizing and growing your hyper-casual game in the Asian market.

Joao Rizzardo, Marketing Coordinator2021-06-09

This edition of the Hyper Games Conference counted 3,350+ participants, 500+ gaming brands, 70+ speakers, 90+ member countries, and about 150 hyper-casual game studios. Needless to say, the conference was a tremendous success, and the information, insights, and feedback that came from each panel and presentation were incredible.

Moderated by Luke Stapley, Marketing Director at open-source development engine Cocos, our very own Director of Business Development Sumit Mahawar was joined by the following industry professionals for an exclusive panel at the Hyper Games Conference:

  • Falko Böcker: Sr. Publishing Manager at JoyPac
  • Krystian Strauss: Head of Overseas BD at AdTiming
  • Ming Li: Head of Sales, China at Tenjin

The main topic they discussed was around everything you need to know to monetize and grow your hyper-casual game in Asia. Below are Sumit’s thoughts and suggestions that publishers can use when entering the Asian mobile market.

What is the current state of the hyper-casual market in Asia? 

We have seen huge opportunities in the Asian market. China alone will be a $100 billion market in ad spend by 2023, and Japan and Korea already hold the second and third spot in ad spend in that market. In terms of potential, SEA is huge, that market alone is predicted to have 500 million mobile gaming users by the end of this year. So at a macro level, we see a lot of potential in that area. 

What are some of the challenges you see right now for developers coming to Asia? 

Legal restrictions in each country are  usually some of the most challenging things for developers entering the market. For example, China requires that all games with IAP must have an ISBN. Getting an ISBN can be a lengthy process, taking approximately six months (or longer) to acquire, and can be costly. 

This qualifies your game to be part of the Android stores and also helps games be showcased by ad agencies, safe in the knowledge that a game meets all of the state’s requirements.

With the new iOS 14, what are some of the new rules for monetization in Asia? 

We are happy to say that our team has been early to the game with the new rules of iOS 14, we have been building and optimizing the algorithm aggressively so in our case we have seen an increase in performance for publishers. We encourage our partners to engage in bidding on their monetization side and that has shown great performance for their efforts. 

This has been one of the slowest rollouts for iOS but we still see good numbers on our end, and that has been encouraging overall. On the privacy side, we are still waiting to see how this is going to affect the Chinese market since Apple still has not taken an official stand yet. 

What are the best practices for the APAC region? 

Well, first of all, localization is everything. Having a local partner to guide you on how to create your advertising material is very important. You have to also think about local holidays. Having the right creative sets for each regional holiday like Chinese New Year can be very effective. Small things like changing the characters to match the holiday, modifying content, colors, or even the app’s icon have proven to be very effective.

Also, it is good to note that using KOLs seems to be a very important strategy in all regions. In Japan, for example, working with a KOL and doing a few ad blitzes, a combination of KOL, outdoor, and UA from a source like Mintegral will generate great results. Some games can give players a sense of nostalgia and fantasy and these games tend to be shared very easily on social media channels like TikTok, Douyin, etc.

Our client, Rollic Games, looked to Mintegral to help them acquire users for their latest game, High Heels, in both Japan and South Korea. It was noted that in Japan, for example, building anticipation during a game’s soft launch can boost downloads. This can be done with typical performance ad campaigns, but also using influencers, as game live streaming is extremely popular. 

Vietnam and Indonesia are the 2 most prominent markets in the SEA region. What are your takes on these 2 markets and the SEA region? 

Our data has shown that Vietnam is leading the pack in SEA in terms of IAP, while in Indonesia we have seen a lot of success with racing, strategy, and action games. So if you are focusing on that market these are some of the genres you should focus on; we have also seen that online battle arena games have been great for revenue in that region. Don’t forget to check the charts for each region to see what works and what the current trends look like. 

What are the restrictions that have been enforced in China regarding iOS games and how will they affect monetization?

For developers looking to use IAPs in China, they must first acquire an ISBN. An ISBN is a license issued by China’s State Administration of Press & Publication and it is needed to operate a mobile game in the country. ISBNs have been in place for mobile games in China since 2016 and some games are not suited for monetization, but for the ones that are and can acquire their ISBN, the potential for monetization is incredible. The restrictions are probably not going to change, so developers should keep that in mind when planning their strategies in the region.

Right now in China, an interesting trend is mini-games, a function of WeChat and other mini stores where users can enjoy basic games. These games only rely on ad monetization strategies and because of that, they do not require a waiting period.

Conclusion

It is clear for any developer trying to boost revenue that the next step is the APAC region, but as we’ve seen, this region can be incredibly complex and diversified. The convenience and pervasiveness of payment options, as well as innovative social networks, are primed for continued hypercasual growth. With that said, finding a local partner such as Mintegral is crucial and will help you avoid many of the typical publisher pitfalls such as localization, compliance, and logistical challenges. Interested in heading East? Contact the Mintegral team today.

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Joao Rizzardo is Mintegral's Marketing Coordinator.
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