Why Different? Japanese Games and Chinese Games.
Sep 25, 2015

In my last article, I talked about what Taiwanese people like about Japanese mobile games and how Chinese and Japanese games are different by looking at their game creatives. The touch of character designs, usage of color… how they design characters was almost opposite to each other. Now having talked about “how different”, today I want to dig in the “why different” part.

Game History
Featurephones (Flip phones)- the beginning of mobile games era in Japan.


Japan has been known as a pioneer in the gaming industry for a long time. Fami-con (Family Computer) and Play Station, I am sure most of you have heard or even played those world class console games in childhood. Gaming culture was close to the lives of Japanese people from early ages and when featurephones (flip phones) became widespread in 2000s, it got much closer. Back then, we saw many Japanese people playing card games on featurephones.



(Source: CESA Games White Paper 2014)

Those people who played games on the featurephones naturally learned the sense of how to play casual games and that built an image of mobile phones = easy-to-play games.
This is how easy-to-play games got the popularity among Japanese people from early ages.

On the other hand, in China, Chinese people used to play games on PC rather than on featurephones (mobile phones).

pc games in China


China Online games


(Source: iResearch.cn)

Simulation games and MMORPG (Massively multiplayer online role-playing game)- so-called core games got the most popularity in China and it became the standard game genre for what games are to Chinese people. Anyway those core games were hard to play on featurephones.
So what happened when gaming came on smartphones? – It stands in between. Regardless of its high speech technology, smartphones are just smartphones after all. Smartphones become the platform where core users who used to play core games on PC and light users who didn’t get all together. Thus, Chinese games struggled with deciding a game genre that would meet expectations of smartphone users and target users (core or light) when developing games.

Total population in Japan is 120M while it is 1,300M in China.
Let’s say 10% of the population likes to play games. In Japan that’s going to be 12M, in China that’s130M- already exceeding the total population in Japan.

Under this different situation, Japanese games and Chinese games make different marketing strategies from each other. For example, Japanese game companies would rather make games that are suitable to all people than only targeting to gamers, a small portion of the population. But in China, it might be the opposite because of its large population. They’d rather focus on only gamers who love games and spend lots of money.

At last, I am summarizing how Taiwanese people distinguish Japanese games from Chinese games.

As far as I know, they use the following criteria to recognize which one is which.
– Character Design
– Game UI
– Game playing system

As already explained in the last article, Japanese characters prefer bright colors such as red, yellow and blue while Chinese use more deep colors such as brown, dark blue and blue. Japanese characters designs are more for kids that everyone would feel easy to play at the first glance while Chinese games have the world-view loved by users who like to play games in the first place.

Game playing system also tells the difference. Japanese giant internet company mixi’s Monster Strike has became a hit in Taiwan and its game system is so called multi play which was not a major playing system in Taiwan before. Such kind of Fight together to defeat an enemy style is very Japanese that is often adopted into Japanese games. This is because Japanese think a great deal of originality in products, it came up with generating such a new game system. Monster Strike proved that if you do well in product marketing, people would accept a new system and you could even make a boom in the market.

Japanese games and Chinese games- it is interesting to find out how and why they ended up being different.
Hope this gives you tips for game marketing in Taiwan.