China’s mobile gaming industry is like your rival high school’s prom. You’re not getting in unless you get a date with someone who’s already enrolled.
Hothead Games has introduced its popular sniping app Kill Shot Bravo to China, and — like the prom — it partnered up with a local company to make that happen. Chinese developer Cheetah Mobile published Kill Shot Bravo for iOS and Android. Worldwide, gaming on smartphones and tablets is worth $36.9 billion, and China is worth nearly one-sixth of that on its own. That means Kill Shot Bravo, which reached No. 5 on the iPhone download chart in the country, has a chance of generating a serious amount of cash in its newest territory.
Getting into China — especially as a Western developer — is notoriously difficult. Most people play on Android, and that operating system has major fragmentation between dozens of app markets. Google pulled out of China in 2011 over a dispute regarding regulation and government hacking. This means phones in that country do not come with the Google Play channel that most Android owners have around the world. And developers do not have an easy path in getting their games out to the multiple companies that run the various distribution platforms. That’s where Cheetah comes in.
“We knew that mobile gamers in China would find Kill Shot Bravo very exciting,” Cheetah marketing manager Zhang Fan said in a canned statement. “With its exceptional graphics and incredibly unique gameplay, the game appeals to players throughout the world. We just wanted to make sure the game got the attention it deserved in all the right channels.”
Cheetah, which is responsible for utility apps like Battery Doctor and Clean Master for iOS and Android, has pre-established relationships with all of the Chinese app channels, and it is planning to use those to grow its business.
For Hothead, this partnership means it can take a successful game it released in November 2015 and give it a fresh audience — although the studio specifically shaped the latest version of Kill Shot Bravo for the typical Chinese gamer. It now features head-to-head multiplayer that pits shooters against one another in real-time. Competitive modes are crucial to success in China, and a PVP option like this is ideal.
“Chinese audiences are hungry for high-quality action games,” Hothead development director Vlad Ceraldi said. “And the early success of Kill Shot Bravo in China is a testament to the game’s appeal to all sorts of audiences throughout the world. Our decision to partner with Cheetah Mobile is one that we knew would help us make Kill Shot Bravo a success in China. Their ability to get the game into as many hands as possible in the Chinese market has been a huge strength for us collectively”