Who Are The Top Chinese App Publishers?

Tony Myers

In Uncategorized. October 21, 2015

TOP_CHINESE_APP_PUBS

There are approximately 250 app publishers in China, 50 of which are big players such as iDreamSky, the largest mobile game publishing platform, and Chukong Technologies. The country’s vast internal market boasts over 200 different app stores, which can make it difficult in distributing an app across the entire ecosytem.

Doing business in China can be a complicated process, in whatever industry, but if you are foreign app developer, say, partnering with a publisher is recommended as it is generally free  in exchange for 30-40% of the Chinese market. Of course you are going to need your app translated into Chinese if you want any chance of success!

The games market is huge in China, and according to latest research from Talking Data, 70.5% of Chinese mobile gamers use Android devices. Along with Samsung, domestic smartphone manufacturers such as Xiaomi and Huawei are quickly winning a major share of the market.

But despite the popularity of Android devices, Google Play was a relative late comer to China. More importantly, in-app purchases are not enabled in China. Chinese users can only access free apps without in-app purchase via Google Play.

China is also a major market for iOS apps. Research by App Annie reveals that China has the second highest number of iOS app downloads in the world (just behind the US), and China generates the third most iOS app revenue of any country.

Most recent estimates from mobile monitoring companies suggest the number of active smartphones in China reached 990 million in the fourth quarter of 2014. Most of that growth has come from first time smartphone buyers, say AppLift, in a blogpost.

“The price of smartphones has dropped dramatically, making them accessible to a larger chunk of China’s population. Right now, the spread of smartphones is driven by people in less developed inland cities, where cheaper Android devices are especially popular. That expansion will only continue; in the future, mobile will probably be the major channel to reach Chinese users.”

Moreover, if you are a games developer then note that by 2016, Amsterdam-based market research firm NewZoo thinks China’s mobile game industry will surpass even the market in the United States.

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Clearly there is everything to play for in a vast and potentially lucrative market so we thought that it would be handy to look at some of the top Chinese App Publishers, using App Annie’s ranking method as our guide.

Tencent

tencent logo

Tencent is China’s largest internet company and is particularly dominant in the country’s Android market, as the developer of four of the top 10 apps in terms of coverage, according to latest data from Wandoujia, China’s search engine for mobile entertainment.

Tencent’s WeChat and Weixin are both both similar chat apps, and boasted 600m monthly active users last quarter, up 37 per cent year on the previous year. The vast majority of these users are based in China and the company does not yet have a significant presences in other markets such as the US.

Tencent’s major competitors include Baidu, Alibaba, and NetEase.

Tencent Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 1
  • Apps: 389 (Publishers: 21 Subsidiaries: 2)
  • Revenue: Net profit for the three months ended June 30 rose 25% to 7.31 billion yuan ($1.16 billion) from 5.84 billion yuan a year earlier, while revenue rose 19% to 23.43 billion yuan. (WSJ)
  • Google Play Apps: 140
  • iOS Apps: 205 
  • Top Apps: WeChat/Wexin and Qzone social networking app
  • Employees: 10,00+
  • HQ: Shenzhen
  • Founded: 1998

Screenshot of Tencent’s Wechat appWeChat-international-users-header-image (1)

NetEase

netease

NetEase, Inc., through its subsidiaries, engages in online games, internet portals, and other online services centered around content, community, communication and commerce. It offers massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), primarily Fantasy Westward Journey, Westward Journey Online II, Tianxia III, Ghost, Heroes of Tang Dynasty, and other licensed games.

The NetEase Mobile News application was the No. 1 mobile news application in 2014 used by consumers in China in terms of time spent. The NetEase Mobile News app also represented up to 30% of all mobile news app launches on the iOS platform during this period.

NetEase Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 2
  • Apps: 201 (Publishers: 20)
  • Revenue: Total revenues for the second quarter of 2015 were 4,833.1 million yuan (US$779.5 million), compared to 3,885.2 million yuan and 2,951.9 million yuan for the preceding quarter and the second quarter of 2014, respectively. Gross profit for the second quarter of 2015 was 2,845.6 million yuan (US$459.0 million), compared to 2,489.1 million yuan and 1,999.7 million yuan for the preceding quarter and the second quarter of 2014, respectively.
  • Google Play Apps: 50 apps
  • IOS Apps: 147 
  • Top Apps: Mobile News / flagship game Fantasy Westward Journey
  • Employees: 6,000+
  • HQ: Hangzhou
  • Founded: 1997

Video: NetEase’s latest game – Lunar Flowers

OurPalm

ourpalm

Founded in Beijing in 2004 as a government-licensed telecommunications and service provider, OurPalm’s main focus is on smart mobile and social web game development, publishing and operations.

OurPalm recently invested $2.3 million in Animoca Brands, the maker of mobile games including those based on the Garfield cartoons. The deal is significant because it shows there remains healthy investments in mobile gaming, which market researcher Newzoo believes will reach $30 billion in 2015. The deal will help Animoca expand into the Chinese mobile game market.

OurPalm’s Pearl Fun puzzle app has achieved over one million downloads and voted ‘best leisure game of the year’ on the App Store.

OurPalm Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 3
  • Apps: 52  (Publishers: 13  Subsidiaries: 6)
  • Revenue: The current company worth exceeds USD 4B with net profit up 45-65 percent y/y at 160-182 million yuan ($29.32 million)
  • Apps: 52 (iOS only)
  • Top Apps: Pearl Fun/ Angry Piggy
  • Employees: 2,000+
  • HQ: Beijing
  • Founded: 2004

Screenshot: Animoca’s Garfield game, which has received investment from OurPalmanimoca-garfield-escape

Meitu

meitu logo

Meitu is primarily a comprehensive image processing service platform and has developed half a dozen photo and video apps that stayed on the top 5 list in China’s App Store and multiple third-party Android app stores.

The company can boast apps in 510 million mobile devices and 800 million registered users – with 180 million monthly active users, as of January 2015. The majority of its users (70%) are young women, who have made its Beauty Cam app a top seller.

According to a recent report by App Annie, Meitu ranked number 3 on the list of “2014 mobile app developers from China”, following Tencent and Baidu. Meitu also ranked number 6 on the list of “2014 global mobile app developers”.

Future plans for Meitu include the development of a self-portrait smartphone, named Meitu Kiss, for female users.

Meitu Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking(by revenue) 4
  • Apps: 31 (Publishers: 6)
  • Revenue:600 million yuan (roughly US$100m) in 2014
  • Google Play Apps: 16
  • iOS Apps: 15
  • Top Apps: BeautyCam – Selfie Solved/MakeupPlus
  • Employees: 251 – 500
  • HQ: Xiamen, Fujian
  • Founded: 2008

Screenshot: Meitu’s Beauty Plus appbeautplus screengrab

Duoyi

duoyi_logo

Although relatively small in number of apps, Duoyi enjoys a massive presence in the gaming community, since launching its first  MMORPG, Dream World in 2007. Since then it has launched Dream Emperor (iOS) in 2010, followed by ‘the casual shooting game’ Tank Force which occupied the number 1 free games spot on the App Store.

Business details of the company are difficult to obtain, except for this statement on its website: ‘In the Top 100 Companies List of Revenue of Internet Information Service published by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, DUOYI ranks No.40 in general and it is in the top 30 on net profit rank.’

Besides online game products, Duoyi also has other apps such as 2980 Mailbox and online dating website LING AI.

Duoyi Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 5
  • Apps: 12 (Publishers: 3)
  • Revenue: n/a
  • Google Play Apps: 1
  • iOS Apps: 11
  • Top Apps: Tank Force /Hero series
  • Employees: n/a
  • HQ:  Guangzhou
  • Founded: 2006

Screenshot: Duoyi’s DreamWorld series of gamesdreamworld_duoyi

Longtu Game

longtu logo

Longtu Game is another leading game publisher and developer with top ranked titles available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. its “Legends of Dota” game is one of the most successful mobile games in China, with over 43 million users and 3 million+ daily active users.

Another game company, Blizzard Entertainment has filed a complaint against Longtu earlier this year claiming its Legends of Dota infringes upon game characters and scenes from Blizzard’s  popular MMORPG World of Warcraft and the Warcraft game universe. Blizzard said that it did not authorize the use of its copyrighted material and that the makers of the game are in violation of Taiwan’s Trademark Act and the Copyright Act.

Longtu Game Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 6
  • Apps: 24 (Publishers: 11 Subsidiaries: 1)
  • Revenue: n/a
  • Google Play Apps: 11
  • iOS Apps: 13
  • Top Apps: QQ Jiu Xian, Legends of Dota and Sharpshooter
  • Employees: 501-1,000
  • HQ: Beijing
  • Founded: 2008

Screenshot: Longtu Games’s Legends of DotaLegend of dota

Perfect World

perfect world

Perfect World’s revenues has almost doubled from $314 million in 2009 to $619 million in 2014, fueled by the periodic introduction of new games as well as the constant re-invention of best-selling games.

The company primarily develops online games based on proprietary game engines and game development platforms. Its portfolio of self-developed online games and apps includes massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) such as Perfect World I and II, Legend of Martial Arts, Zhu Xian, Chi Bi, Pocketpet Journey West, Battle of the Immortals, Fantasy Zhu Xian, Forsaken World, Dragon Excalibur, Empire of the Immortals, Return of the Condor Heroes, Saint Seiya Online, Swordsman Online, and Holy King.

Perfect World Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 7
  • Apps: 57 (Publishers: 19 Subsidiaries: 2)
  • Revenue: 3.05 billion yuan (2013)
  • Google Play Apps: 12
  • iOS Apps: 14
  • Top Apps: Perfect World, Legend of Martial Arts, Perfect World II
  • Employees: 4,500
  • HQ: Beijing
  • Founded: 2004

Video: Preview of Perfect World 2

Happy Elements

happy elements

Happy Elements has carved out a reputation, on Facebook in particular, as one of the top Asian social gaming developers. Its main market is in Japan, China and South Korea. Its product portfolio includes the apps My Fishbowl on Facebook, which has 1.5 million daily active users and the equally popular Happy Fish games.

Happy Elements’ games are available on Facebook, Tencent, Renren, Kaixin, Mixi, Hangames, Cyworld, Daum, Netlog, Hyves, StudiVZ and Orkut. The company has also launched a number of mobile game titles, including three mobile phone games in Japan.

Happy Elements Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 8
  • Apps: 60 (Publishers: 9)
  • Revenue: n/a
  • Google Play Apps: 31
  • iOS Apps: 9
  • Top Apps: My Fishbowl/Lounge Bar/My Kingdom
  • Employees: 500+
  • HQ: Beijing
  • Founded: 2009

Screenshot: The Popular Happy Fish gamehappy fish

Momo Technology

Momo-Logo

Momo is a popular mobile social dating app which was launched by Momo Tech in August 2011 to ‘promote and facilitate the connection between people, so as to better satisfy people’s social need in our ever-changing technological world.’

Last year Momo introduced games on its platform, in cooperation with 58.com and Alibaba, and recently launched  its “gifting” service that enables users to send gifts to other users.

Momo Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 9
  • Apps: 25 (Publishers: 6)
  • Revenue: Total net revenues were $18.6 million in Q4 2014, an increase of 702.3% from $2.3 million during the same quarter of 2013
  • Google Play Apps: 1
  • iOS Apps: 20
  • Top App: Momo Dating app
  • Employees: 500+
  • HQ: Beijing
  • Founded: 2011

Screenshot: Momo’s popular dating appmomo screenbrab

Baidu

bd_logo1

Baidu is a Chinese website and search engine, often referred to as ‘China’s Google’. One of China’s earliest successful internet companies, it has grown from a basic search company into an internet giant with services ranging from music and video to cloud storage and antivirus software. Its products include Baidu Webpage, Baidu Video, Baidu Map, hao123.com, BaiduPedia, Baidu Input, Baidu Toolbar, TTPlayer, Iqiyi, and Sky Software.

Latest figures reveal Baidu’s mobile search monthly active users (MAUs) were 629 million for the month of June 2015, an increase of 24% year-over-year. But  the company is now facing increased pressure from rivals while expanding its operations in Southeast Asia. Definitely one to watch.

Baidu Key Facts

  • App Annie Ranking: (by revenue) 10
  • Apps: 289 (Publishers: 46 Subsidiaries: 7)
  • Revenue: Baidu reported total revenues of 16.575 billion yuan ($2.673 billion) for the second quarter of 2015, representing a 38.3% increase from the corresponding period in 2014.
  • Google Play Apps: 31
  • iOS Apps: 121
  • Top Apps: Search, Social, Entertainment
  • Employees: 10,000+
  • HQ: Beijing
  • Founded: 1999

Screenshot: Baidu’s search enginebaidu screen

Conclusion

So there we have it, a guide to some of the top app publishers in China. If we remember that twenty-eight percent of the 550 million Chinese device owners play games for more than an hour per day, it figures that gaming apps are where the bucks are in this vast market.

The country’s complex app distribution ecosystem and the insane number of distribution networks present a huge opportunity – and challenge – to app developers.

As our friends at Vungle say in a recent report: “Understanding how to distribute your app is just the beginning. Then, you have to overcome technological barriers due to the Chinese firewall and create game scenarios that resonate with a new audience.”

Vungle software engineer Rolando Abarca has worked in Beijing and offers plenty of advice to app developers, such as increase your odds by releasing on Android, ‘take localization beyond translation’ and don’t underestimate the importance of local servers. Read his full blogpost here for more handy tips.