Overcoming Cultural Barriers: Tap4Fun’s Success Overseas

2015-09-16 14:21 Resource:Tap4fun gallonwang

Not many people may be familiar with Chengdu based company Tap4Fun, but if you take a look at this company’s accomplishments, you may want to sit up and take note. Their accomplishments include: App Annie’s 2013 Top 30 Earning Mobile Game Companies and App Annie’s 2013 Top 50 Earning Mobile Game Companies. Tap4Fun’s “Empire Trilogy” (“Island Empire,” “Galaxy Empire,” and “King’s Empire”) along with “Spartan Wars” are all huge hits in the global market. As a Chinese company, learning how to face the differing cultures of foreign markets is key. “Perfect World Media’s” reporter interviewed Tap4Fun’s Creative Director, Charlie Moseley. Mr. Moseley is originally from America, but he has been living in China for the past nine years.

“The cultural divide is great,

but it can be bridged.”

“I have lived in China for nine years, but I am still studying Chinese culture. There are many things I still do not understand. For someone like me, I have lived in China for nine years, and still struggle to understand these things; it goes without saying that foreigners outside China are even more at a loss. The cultural divide is huge.” Charlie offered these remarks when talking about the culture gap.

However, that is not to say that Chinese culture cannot spread abroad. The opposite is actually true, as many foreign markets are very interested in Chinese culture. “Kung fu, for example. ‘Kung Fu Panda’ is an example of Chinese culture that was very successful in the West.”

Of course, some things don’t translate well into foreign markets. According to game developers, they are most concerned with how to create something that will be accepted by foreign audiences. Charlie had this to say on the topic:

“The first step is to see what is popular worldwide.” At the time of the interview, “Guardians of the Galaxy” was blowing up in theaters. Charlie used the success of the movie to explain to the interviewer how to use elements from popular culture to popularize games. “The protagonist of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ teams up with people of all different races. Some have blue skin, some have green skin. If you were to make a galactic battle game now, and include characters of different races with blue or green skin, it would be easily understood. However, if not for the success of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, everyone would be wondering why the game had all these blue and green characters in it. Using elements of pop culture in your game can help players better understand the game while also bridging the cultural divide,” Charlie summarized.

The second point Charlie made was to find commonalities between cultures. If the main character embodies some of these similar elements, regardless of whether players are Chinese or American, everyone will understand. “I once designed something called ‘Dream Quest’, which was the story of a young boy who saw the world with childlike innocence. I think everyone is a child at heart, so this kind of protagonist would be easily understood. Another example would be heartbreak. I think everyone has experienced heartbreak, so this would also strike a chord in all players.”

Making International Products

Generally a company establishes itself in the local market first, and after attaining a certain size would set off to expand. Why then did Tap4Fun, despite being a Chinese company, opt instead to first develop its foreign market? “Our CEO is very interested in the foreign market, and always hoped to make an international product. I am American, and I understand the overseas market rather well, but I am not very familiar with the Chinese market. We decided to team up, and to take on the foreign market.” The facts prove that Tap4Fun’s “Empire Trilogy,” “Spartan Wars,” and other titles have achieved great results and great reviews abroad.

According to analyses, the size of the Chinese mobile gaming market reached 11.7 billion RMB in 2014. In the face of such a big market, Tap4Fun still refuses to give up. “Actually, we are always proving our status in the Chinese market, but we treat all markets the same. South Africa and Southeast Asia, for example. There is untapped potential in the global market, and we are enticed by that. We hope to search for more opportunities on a global scale.”

The Chinese Market: Nothing To Fear From Hackers

Charlie also brought up challenges they face in the Chinese market, but he needed a minute to prepare first. Although he did bring up the hacker problems, he was still very optimistic about the condition of the Chinese market. “If you haven’t made preparations to deal with them, then of course it will be disastrous if hackers catch you off guard. If preparations are made in advance though, hackers can be dealt with. Part of my job is to tell everyone where hidden problems may lie.”

Reference –
刘璇. “超越文化差异:尼毕鲁的海外生存之道.” 老虎游戏. November 4th, 2014.

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