The Weekly Raid: Is The Influx Of Chinese Money Good For The Gaming Industry?

It was during the early years of this century that Western gamers first witnesses an influx of Korean games, with the most common genre being MMORPGs. This influx soon became a tsunami that washed literally hundreds upon hundreds of games of varying quality upon our shores. This 'Korean Wave', as I just coined it, left a permanent mark on the gaming industry -- the free to play model.

While popular in East Asian for many years due to rampant and unaccountable piracy, Western gamers got their first taste of free to play with titles like Nexon's MapleStory and GalaNet's Fly For Fun. Love it or hate it, free to play stuck. Western studios soon started adopting the foreign business model and the fruit of that cultural exchange were some of the best games ever made, including League of Legends by Riot Games and Warframe by Digital Extremes.

As the second decade of the century approaches its final lap, the Western gaming market is being overwhelmed by yet another East Asian contender. This time its China. As many of you may know, both Riot Games and Digital Extremes were bought out by Chinese companies. Even Western MMORPG stalwart RuneScape was gobbled up by Zhongji, a Chinese mining (iron, not virtual currency) company.

According to Digi-Capital, the Chinese hyper-corporation Tencent alone was involved in 40% of all money invested in game company funding over the previous year. They were also involved in over 75% of all gaming industry mergers and acquisitions. Tencent's latest investment was a $2 billion stake in French gaming company Ubisoft.

While the Chinese market and Chinese developed games often share the free to play model popularized by Korean companies, they also bring their own "innovations" to the industry.

If you're wondering why more and more games include a never ending litany of 'daily login bonuses, multiple currencies of varying complexity, drop-dead easy progression during the leveling phase (MMORPG specific), and other such features, its likely due to Chinese influence.

Chinese gaming studios, particularly in the PC browser game subgenre, have perfected the concept of 'monetization pits', features in games such as the pet upgrade system that are specifically designed to extract the most amount of money from users. Games designed in this way put monetization and 'retention' first. Its a concept Western studios did not embrace until coming into contact with East Asian developers, particularly Chinese developers in the PC space and Japanese developers in the mobile gaming space.

Whether you love or hate all these new monetization and retention tricks, they seem to be here to stay. Firstly, these features seem to work. Second, the investors funding the majority of the industry today expect these features to be in place. The question is, how do you feel about this new trend brought about by the recent wave of Chinese money? Share your thoughts below!

Bonus: check out this old GDC presentation on the browser gaming market in China!

Lifelong gamer always looking for the next virtual adventure. I'm still waiting for the next big MMORPG. Until then, you can find me hopping between multiple games.

  • Feto

    I like that it may make games more profitable and prolong their life, but it sucks that they remove features from the normal game just to make them "VIP" features (expanding your inventory slots with cash is BS), or adding looting pets in games where there's lots of drops, so you either waste minutes looting or buy a pet that does it instantly.

    As for the refine/enhance gear thing with the cash shop, I don't mind that much, most of the time they are not really necessary for PvE content (at least in the games I have played, which aren't that much lately), and as for PvP... well, if it's F2P it's gonna be full of hackers/bots anyway so why bother with it.

    So in conclusion, it's great that the monetization thing keeps the games alive, but as a player that doesn't spend money on F2P, it's not really worth it to play most of those games, not because you are going to be less than the VIP players, but because it's not enjoyable to play with all the restrictions.

  • Nakano15

    No, is not, because not only they will keep providing us shitty repetitive grindy games, but also lock features of the games behind pay wall.

  • It depends really, if people buy into it then its not really all that controversial. League and Warframe (both games I play on and off) are the most successful f2p games in the west, yet people still buy into them because its more for cosmetics than anything else.

    On the Eastern developed games that are entirely p2w, they could learn a thing or two from their f2p cousins so their games wouldn't be looked down upon so much. And I don't mean just start selling cosmetics either.

  • eutomorrenu

    i profoundly hate login bonuses and all that collectible stuff and easy pogression shit

    • TianlanSha

      Why login bonuses are a nice addition to every online game, especially if they don't force you to log in every 24 hours but instead keep track and continue from where you left off. Even Elder Scrolls Online will start doing it in the new update. It's free goodies, you should be happy. xD

      • eutomorrenu

        I hate it because i have OCD, but if its okay to not log in every 24 hours no problem. However i think those goodies shouldn't be, like it is in mobile, related to the easy progression start, i kind liked that begining when you a shitty ugly armor and hover at grinding areas dreaming with that day when you'll be one of the cool guys. Nowdays is just too much, too quick.

        • TianlanSha

          Well, I play some Asian F2P FPS games and they all have daily login bonuses which are either main currency, secondary currency or weapon skins, which is all good in my book. I usually play the games for the gameplay itself and not about achieving things and getting stuff so the daily rewards are something cool that I like the idea of having, but generally don't really pay too much attention to.

          Also I'm sure the one in The Elder Scrolls Online is going to be really good, since the game is B2P and they can't afford to insult people with cheap scams for daily rewards. It's a good system to keep people encouraged to come back to the game.

          Also don't bring in mobile, mobile is garbage and it shouldn't even deserve to be mentioned. There are a handful of truly F2P RPG games on Android, some aren't even in the Play Store and you need to use F-Droid or sideload them, but the main games are garbage and scam so I just ignore them if the icon is too flashy, it's in my recommended secion and has many downloads - this means it's bad. Mobile games are ruining the gaming market.