Sometimes when I go through my Facebook (FB) news feed, I feel like I’m a minority when it comes to online gaming. It’s like all my FB friends are on Zynga’s games Farmville, CityVille, Café World or Mafia wars. I’ve never played any and honestly I think they’re annoying, they create (more) clutter on the news feed.
Just eleven days after launching in 2010, CityVille had already recorded over 22 million players in the US, which are more users than The Netherlands (where I’m from) has citizens. Currently the count is at 100 million users. I may have to join ’em, because I certainly can’t beat ’em.
Social network game developer Zynga is the creator of FarmVille’s beta version CityVille. Where in FarmVille players would raise livestock and harvest crops, in CityVille users build and manage complete cities. The company says CityVille is “the most interactive Zynga game board to date.”
Zynga and China’s largest Internet company Tencent announced the launch of the Chinese version of CityVille, named Best City Star on July 26, 2011 in Shanghai, China. Zynga isn’t just launching a copy of CityVille in China. The buildings, designs and activities will reflect the Chinese culture in Best City Star. They have incorporated Chinese festivals, news events and other relevant components into the game, which are developed to the rich story needs of the Chinese players.
Most people play online games due to boredom and addiction, but it’s also used as a way to interact and socialize. These are reasons why I think Zynga’s and Tencent’s launch of CityVille in China will be a continuing success.
CityVille Will Be a Success in China and Here’s Why
- Reason 1. High Number of Online Gamers
Online gaming in China is one of the largest and fastest growing internet business sectors in the country. There are currently 457 million internet users, which puts the country now as the largest online user base globally. Two-thirds of these internet users engage in online gaming.
The Chinese would die for an online gaming session, literally! A man died after playing video games for three days nonstop. Another horror story is that of a couple who sold their three children to support their online gaming addiction. In China 13% of the college students are addicted to online gaming. On average Chinese online gamers are between 18 to 30 years old and have at least completed a secondary level of education, most of whom live in larger cities.
- Reason 2a. Growth in Mobile Usage
There are currently 900 million cell phone users in China and rising, this number makes China the world’s largest mobile device market. Along with advanced data and emailing, gaming falls under 54% of the Chinese mobile users.
Overall China mobile phone Internet users are 50.7% between age 18 and 24. 75.1% of China mobile Internet users are between the age of 18 and 30. 61.3% are educated up to high school and 20% own a bachelor’s degree and above; mobile internet seems to be attracting more highly educated users.
Reason 2b. Matching Demographics
Take notice that mobile users and online gamers share the same demographics in China, chances are they’re the same person. This is an even larger growth opportunity for the social network gaming industry, as more people are using internet on their phones.
- Reason 3. Chinese Socialize Online
The people of China have a need to relieve their pressures and communicate with others.They feel it’s easier to do so online where it’s more convenient than face-to-face. Socializing virtually also helps them to become closer with their friends.
Kaixin001.com for example aids the Chinese to create a more informal interaction with say a co-worker or boss. “In real life, we normally behave respectfully to our boss, but on Kaixin001.com, we can steal vegetables from our boss’ garden and joke with him. This is great!” said a user of Kaixin001.com.
- Reason 4. Similar done before
Others that went before Best City Star:
Renren is a popular social network in China with over 30 million users and it’s also accessible through mobile phones. Renren Restaurant is a social network game with 3D graphics and high social interaction…not much different from CityVille.
Kaixin001 basically duplicated Facebook’s popular applications and penetrated in to the Chinese Market. Some social games they have are Friends for Sale: A game that users can price and sell their friends and Happy Farm: Users can grow their own vegetables and steal vegetables from their friends. Kaixin001 generated 10 million users within 6 months.
The game creators at Zygna are geniuses when it comes to developing online games. I wonder if there are psychologists involved. They create successful online games, they definitely do their home work to get to know their target group. Launching the game in China was without doubt a brilliant idea. Chinese people love to socialize online and they love to play games online–combine that and you have CityVille. In this game you’re basically forced to interact with your online friends without using any actual words. Which is a fabulous component of the game, because the Chinese find it easier to socialize online rather than face-to-face. I’m curious to see how fast and large the Chinese version of CityVille, called Best City Star fan base will grow.
I admit I want to play the game now.