Today, during the panel “Thinking Globally: How to Monetize International Audiences” at Inside Social Apps in San Francisco, the audience was enthralled by the panelists views on cultural differences within games. Despite the entertaining aspects (such as that Italians like to fight and Americans like buying weapons) it has become increasingly clear that this is big business. In Asia, the company Tencent, which happens to be the largest social network in the country, currently has a market capitalization of over $30 billion, based on statistics posted by Benjamin Joffe, the Founder of “+8*”.
The most important factor in the success of social games within various markets is an intimate understanding of the culture within that market. While trial and error can work, it’s clear that many of the domestic companies have a clear advantage. This is probably why rumors have begun to surface that Tencent is looking to acquire U.S.-based social game developers. Whether it’s game developers in Asia or game developers in the U.S., it sounds as though many of the strategies are similar.
However Patrick Liu, CEO of Rekoo, discussed how his company actively hires native employees to help break through the cultural barriers that work against the company. These companies are clearly part of much longer-term marathon to grow the social games space, especially in the U.S. where virtual goods are a fraction of what they could become. While there are differing strategies to monetizing the applications internationally, there are two important factors (which are relatively obvious): effective translation and a thorough understanding of cultures around the globe.
One other interesting aspect of international social games is how effectively users are monetized. According to Season Xu, Co-founder and COO of Five Minutes, the average revenue per daily active user tends to follow the GDP per capita. Additionally, most transactions in eastern parts of the world come on mobile devices. Patrick Liu stated that 75 percent of the company’s users in Asia are on mobile devices.