The9, an online gaming company with a long history in China, said it has scored good results making games more discoverable in the China Apple App Store.

Working with OpenFeint, The9 has created its Game Zone social gaming platform to help promote and distribute mobile games for third-party game developers.

The9 partnered with game developer Beijing Handloft in Beijing to launch the game Terrible Coaster on mobile devices in China. The game saw great success, rising to the No. 1 free app in the China App Store and remaining there for four days. The move shows that, just as in the U.S., mobile games can benefit from social distribution techniques.

Chris Shen, vice president of The9 and general manager of the mobile business unit, said in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat that the company has figured out how to promote games so they can reach a wide audience in a number of mobile app stores in China’s fragmented app ecosystem. The9 can partner with developers via Game Zone so their games can be exposed to millions of players in China across a number of third-party channels, telecom carrier app stores and mobile device pre-installs.

“We licensed OpenFeint and localized it for the market in China,” Shen said. “We now have 40 partners in China, including three major carriers, mobile device makers and third-party channels.”

Those partners constitute a major mobile game publishing network that allows The9 to get a mobile game in front of a big audience, Shen said.

Terrible Coaster, an action adventure game, debuted on Nov. 30 and has surpassed 700,000 downloads.

Zhao Sanjiang, CEO of Beijing Handloft, said the success of the game was due in large part to the exposure of the title to so many players via The9 Game Zone. Sanjiang believes that networked mobile games with social features are the ones that will succeed in a vast cross-channel network such as The9 Game Zone.

The9 was an investor in OpenFeint, which was acquired by Japan’s Gree this year for $104 million. The9 also continues to invest in American game developers with Fund9, a $100 million fund that helps localize American and European games for distribution in China.

The9, which once operated World of Warcraft in China for Blizzard Entertainment, operates games such as Soul of The Ultimate Nation, Atlantica, and Kingdom Heroes 2 Online in mainland China. The company is also making a number of its own online games. It was originally founded in 1999 as a virtual community and evolved into an online game operator starting in 2002. The World of Warcraft deal ended in 2009.