At Tencent Holding’s annual game conference on Saturday, the Chinese company announced more than 40 new or updated games—but many of them were titles already familiar to seasoned gamers.
On the cards are new mobile games based on famous Japanese game franchises Street Fighter, Metal Slug, and Dynasty Warriors, all big names that already have vast followings worldwide for their PC and console versions.
The reveal comes just days after the Chinese company announced a mobile game called Pokémon Unite in partnership with another Japanese gaming heavyweight, The Pokémon Company.
“The game industry is standing at the edge of an era full of possibility,” said Tencent senior vice-president Steven Ma at the event. “Globally, the popularity of new technologies is accelerating, the innovation cycle of gameplay is shortening [and] the creation of story intellectual property (IP) is becoming more abundant.”
Tencent’s success in mobile gaming has long hinged on buying the rights to existing storylines and adapting popular PC and console games for mobile platforms. PUBG Mobile, the company’s mobile adaptation of South Korean battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, raked in a record USD 226 million in May along with its Chinese version, Peacekeeper Elite.
Call of Duty: Mobile, created by Tencent’s TiMi Studios under a license from American video game company Activision-Blizzard, also recently surpassed 250 million in downloads.
Tencent, which commands roughly half of China’s USD 33 billion mobile and PC gaming industry according to research firm Niko Partners, is not the only one snapping up rights for existing storylines and adapting them for mobile games.
Fellow Chinese gaming giant NetEase has been developing mobile games based on fantasy novels Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, for instance, while TikTok-owner ByteDance recently signed new deals to publish Naruto: Slugfest and One Piece: The Voyage, both highly anticipated games based on Japanese animation series.
IP rights key to success
“One of the hot topics especially in the mobile gaming industry worldwide in recent years has been ‘IP, IP, IP’,” said Serkan Toto, CEO of game industry consultancy Kantan Games. “Chinese companies in particular have been especially aggressive when it comes to bringing successful PC and console games to mobile platforms in recent years.”
In fact, the country’s mobile and PC game market is dominated by titles featuring already-popular characters and storylines—73 of the top 100 grossing mobile games last year were created through the purchase of IP rights to existing content, according to research firm Analysys.
“A good story is instrumental in helping gamers to form emotional ties with the product,” said Ma at the event. However, he added: “By [this], we don’t mean that we are attaching famous IP to the game to earn eyeballs. We mean that we will genuinely digest the meaning of the story and match it with an appropriate gameplay mechanic.”
This article was originally published by the South China Morning Post.