Since the rise of mobile games, the industry’s perception of the Japanese market is constantly changing. Five or six years ago, we usually considered Japan to be an “island” in the global game market. A long history, traditional and conservative local companies, high user demand and unique game demands made it difficult for foreign products to enter. In this period Only a few domestic companies can gain a foothold in the Japanese market, and the company 6wves, the subject of this article’s interview, is one of them. With the continuous improvement of the level of Chinese game research and development and the advent of the overseas boom, large manufacturers, small and medium-sized manufacturers, have set their sights on the Japanese market and have achieved success. At this time, everyone’s perception is that the Japanese market is not unbreakable. . Until the past year, a large number of domestic games appeared on the best-selling list in the Japanese market, and the gameplay of many products was something we thought the Japanese market would not accept. This phenomenon subverted the industry’s consistent perception of the Japanese market.
Of course, in any case, our consensus is that Japan is a high-quality market with dense population, high user loyalty, and strong paying ability, and it is a long-term market worthy of long-term cultivation. So, what has happened in the Japanese market over the years, so that the above-mentioned disruptive changes have occurred? What kind of efforts do Chinese manufacturers need to make to enter the Japanese market? With these questions, the CIS interviewed Zhang Wei, VP of 6wves, hoping to bring satisfactory answers to practitioners.
And in the China Games Spring Sea Conference held on April 22. We will also invite Zhang Wei, the protagonist of this article, to share the methodology of the Japanese market. If you are interested in participating, please scan the QR code of the poster at the bottom of this article or click to read the original text to jump to register.
The following is the interview transcript:
CIS:What impact did the changes in the Japanese market over the past year have on a company that has been working in Japan for many years like 6wves?
Zhang Wei:Very big changes have been made. This year, Chinese companies have launched many successful products in Japan, such as Tencent’s “Dragon Fantasy” and the most recent “Saint Seiya”, Youzu’s “Senior Three Kingdoms 2” and “Sale’s Light”, Lilith’s “The Awakening of Nations”, “Sword and Expedition”, Yooxing’s “Tomorrow’s Ark”, Kunlun’s “Reaper”, 4399’s “Legend of Magic Sword” and so on.
I have always said that there are two domestic games that can succeed in Japan, one is SLG and the other is two-dimensional card. Judging from the new products launched this year, the current domestic games in Japan cover a variety of gameplay, including placement Cards, turn-based cards, MMO, tower defense, etc. Domestic games have achieved success in Japan, including some MMOs. They have also achieved good results. This is a signal. In addition to SLG and cards in terms of gameplay, in addition to the theme of the Three Kingdoms and the two-dimensional, we have been in the theme. And the gameplay is fully evolved. The whole of Japan, in the eyes of Chinese companies, is a high-end market, and domestic boutiques are going to Japan. But relatively speaking, Japan’s threshold is still relatively high. Many people told me that they want to go to the Japanese market, but it is difficult for ordinary products to succeed. The good results are mainly high-end products, which have some characteristics, such as the applicability of themes. Although the Three Kingdoms is not popular, the Japanese can accept them. Another example is the scarcity of gameplay, such as the “Tomorrow’s Ark” by Youxing. This product has also achieved good results in Japan. It is a tower defense product, and there are very few tower defense products in Japan. We talk about first-mover advantage, you are in a region, an OK theme and some new gameplay are also possible to succeed. But first of all, it has to be a successful product in other regions before it can achieve certain results in Japan. So the change is that big manufacturers get together to deploy in Japan, because Japan is a very good market, but its threshold is also very high.
A record of changes in the Japanese market in one year
CIS:In addition to the “Senior Three Kingdoms 2” you just mentioned, there are also a large number of “Legend of Magic Sword” including 4399.
Zhang Wei: Yes, this is what I want to mention, including “Dragon Fantasy” and “Legend of Magic Sword”. The two products of Tencent and 4399 were fully warmed up before going online and invested a lot of market expenses. They both invited Japanese national-level endorsements. It can be said that these two domestic MMOs directly compete with South Korean MMOs in the Japanese market. The side shows that domestic MMOs can be made in Japan. But the threshold is very high. Whether it is “Dragon Fantasy” or “Legend of Magic Sword”, their investment is very large. Usually, Japanese companies will only appear on TV commercials a year after they go online, but these two products start to warm up before they go online. This kind of investment at no cost cannot be replicated by ordinary companies because the risk is very high. It is also explaining that there are data verification in other regions and sufficient Japanese market research.
CIS:Can this model be replicated?
Zhang Wei:It is difficult to copy. It can only be said that promotion investment and the product itself are indispensable. Product quality determines the lower limit, and market investment determines the upper limit. This copying is still very difficult, and there should be no problems in any link, and it is not recommended to follow suit at will.
CIS:In fact, when it comes to MMOs in the Japanese market, 6 Wves seems to have tested the waters a long time ago, and the results are pretty good.
Zhang Wei:Yes, we did “Sky Change” four or five years ago, and it was around 70 on the best-selling list before it went live, but at that time the competition on the best-selling list was not as fierce as it is now. Later, we also did “Wings of Fury”, and we did it in the Japanese market for almost three years. Our CP Qingguo is also very professional and powerful, and overall it is quite successful.
Now we are less likely to do MMO, because of the long-term retention issues of this category and the operations that are more likely to cause fatigue, so we may consider longer-term products such as SLG. Of course, this is only our own consideration, and the thinking of each publisher is different.
CIS:Looking at the Japanese list now is actually very subversive. Many so-called Chinese characteristic products are also on the list. How did this happen?
Zhang Wei:In the past three or four years, Chinese products have gathered to go to Japan, and our product level has been improving. Japanese players may not like Chinese games before, but because the level of Chinese products is improving and continuous success, Japanese players are also slowly Adapt to Chinese products and gameplay. Another is the improvement of art level, which Japanese users pay more attention to. Special mention is made for official products. This gameplay was invented by us Chinese and not available in other regions, so we have made a breakthrough in the Japanese market. But now the pattern has been set, and the purchase cost is also very high. New products want to go in for comparison. hard. We think that official products are a bit like SLG, but they are lighter and have card elements that Japanese players love. However, if the purchase cost is too high, it will take a long time to pay back, which will make this kind of new products difficult to make.
After being educated on these products, Japanese players are actually more accepting of Chinese products, but some inherent prejudices may still exist, and many companies in the Japanese market will intentionally or unintentionally avoid being a Chinese company. But Chinese products are okay. For example, what we are looking at are all domestic products. We believe that Chinese products are already world-leading in terms of numerical value, gameplay, and art.
CIS:In your opinion, how many successful Chinese companies can enter the top-selling list in the Japanese market?
Zhang Wei:Don’t set the goal too high. The initial goal is to be in the top 100 of the bestseller list. If you can make it to the top 50, it is very successful. For example, with Japan, South Korea, the United States, and other companies that issue mobile game products in Japan, our company’s revenue can reach more than 20. There are several very powerful Chinese companies in front of us, some large Japanese manufacturers and several American companies. The company, several Korean companies, including Nordic companies like Supercell, are actually very small. If you want to be in the top 50 for a product, it is about 3-40 million a month, which is actually pretty good. If you make another type of product, if it can’t break out, it would be great to be able to reach the level of 50-60, and the Japanese users have a long line, so the list will last longer. The Japanese market is very exclusive, and local manufacturers still have an absolute advantage. In addition to local companies, from the perspective of overall market revenue, the revenue of Chinese companies in Japan has far exceeded the revenue of American and Korean companies in Japan.
Deeply cultivated for many years SLG, the methodology of 6wves
CIS:6 Wves has many successful SLG games. I don’t know if you have paid attention to competing products recently, such as “Three Kingdoms Overbearing” by Guangrong himself.
Zhang Wei:Concerned, this product has a very good performance. Guangrong previously focused on the development of console games and was not very interested in mobile games. Mobile games are mainly based on IP authorization. As the revenue share of mobile games has become higher and higher in recent years, some Japanese companies are also constantly moving to this area. Field investment. Guangrong can see the success of “New Romance of the Three Kingdoms” in Japan, including the “Three Kingdoms Strategic Edition”. Guangrong, as the IP party, has a share. They must know how high the revenue of this product is. That Guangrong has its own IP, which can get the attention of some loyal fans, and Guangrong also has the foundation for developing SLG products. However, Guangrong is one of the very few Japanese companies that have done SLG, and other Japanese companies have very little accumulation in this area.
CIS:This is actually your competitor?
Zhang Wei:As a distribution, we can’t prevent others from doing SLG in the Japanese market, so I definitely don’t want to have a competitive product (laughs).
Competition is unavoidable, so just rely on quality and market competition. For example, the amount we buy in the Japanese market is very expensive. It may cost 70, 80 or even 100 US dollars. With this unit price, we are confident that we can recycle it. Then anyone who feels confident can buy it. In fact, you can see that the prices of some SLGs purchased in China recently are similar. The unit price of iOS is also five or six hundred yuan, which is very close to the unit price of Japan. Our advertising pays more attention to ROI. The unit price can be high, but ROI must be guaranteed, instead of putting the unit price at 4-5 US dollars or 10 US dollars. This kind of amount is also available in Japan, but we don’t think it makes much sense. It will be lost immediately, and the budget is still spent, so why not buy thirty or forty dollars, he can keep in the game for a long time to make contributions. For example, my 9-month 270-day LTV is 80 US dollars, then I cut it in half as a distribution, and the unit price is controlled at 40 US dollars. I can pay back in 9 months, because SLG will definitely stay in Japan for more than a year.
In Japan, we have a product guaranteed for three to five years. Our “Three Kingdoms Tianwu” was launched in 2015. It has been more than five years and is still in production. The difficulty of the issuance is mainly in the early stage, your investment, you invest 3 to 4 million US dollars a month, you may recover only 2 million US dollars, and you have to divide the research and development. At that time, you read the report.
CIS:The mentality is easy to collapse, right?
Zhang Wei:Therefore, to be an SLG depends on the mentality of the highest decision-making level. It is to take a breath and not let go. SLG is afraid that it will not do half of it. You will bite your teeth and keep doing it. After 3-4 months, your watch will be slow. There will be a balance, and then the market input will slow down, and the income will increase after the DU rises up, so there will be profits, and the balance will be reached in about 9 months or even 12 months. So why many companies can’t do SLG, because the company requires 6 months to pay back, and 6 months can’t do it in Japan. If there is no long-term mentality, like domestic MMOs, it may take three months to pay back. They do not understand the characteristics of the Japanese market, and they lack the courage to do it in the long-term. Therefore, the market is one aspect; the belief of the decision-makers is also one aspect. The most important thing is to have capital reserves.
But when we do Japan, from “Three Kingdoms” to “Three Kingdoms Heroes”, “The King of Chaos” and so on, they are all relatively good products, and they also have a certain methodology. We know that we can’t get back the original in 6 months. I If you can accept the payback in 9 months or 1 year, then increase the unit price. At the beginning, the purchase amount is cheaper at 2-30 US dollars. It will definitely make money. If you buy 50 US dollars, let’s evaluate whether we can pay back in 12 months. If so, we will continue to buy. At this time, some companies may not be able to afford it. You can buy these quantities, and then rely on the long-term to trap users. Your revenue will increase, and the market share will be higher. It also depends on cycle and time. And financial strength.
In the increasingly competitive Japanese market, where are the opportunities in the future?
CIS:We have diverged a lot, and now I still want to ask, so many excellent companies are going to Japan, do they have some influence on a company like 6 Wves that has been working in the Japanese market for many years, and how do we deal with this kind of competition?
Zhang Wei:I don’t think that our Chinese company’s arrival in the Japanese market is a competition between Chinese companies, or a long-term vision. We are going overseas to make money together. Because the Japanese market is not small, and many excellent companies are not the same as our current track, this cannot be said to be a particularly big competition. Of course, there are some companies doing SLG, so we will do our own things separately, and we will have the final say based on the market rules. If the unit price can return to the original price, I will buy it. If you have a suitable unit price, you can also buy it. Wait, I won’t talk about suppressing each other. If we take the initiative to make some direction choices, we have always been doing it for all categories, but everyone sees that our more successful products are SLGs, so here is also the platform of the sea white paper to tell everyone that products of all categories are You can take a look at it and talk about it. We have done “Wings of Fury” before, “Ultra Evolutionary Story” and so on. We have done some placements, including female orientation. We are also passing different competitions. To try and explore the road to achieve the success of other tracks, this is a direction we are going to do next.
CIS:As far as the tracks we have entered, how big are its plates and how many manufacturers can it accommodate?
Zhang Wei:The card market is very large, with a very large audience. It should be possible to accommodate more than ten or twenty manufacturers, and its share will be larger than that of SLG, but it is not very predictable. In the case of SLG, in its current state, 6-7 vendors have little problem. If an average game has a monthly revenue of 10-20 million, it will be 7.8 billion a year. At the moment, we can count the manufacturers that are SLGs in Japan. In fact, these are just a few of them. Some of them have very high revenues, so they can probably have a scale of more than 1 billion.
CIS:Can you combine the two new products released this year, “Anniversal” and “Moon&Str”, and talk about 6 Wves’s eyes, what other track opportunities in the Japanese market?
Zhang Wei:There will be no problem in the direction of our selection. One is for women and the other is for card placement. Both types can be done in Japan. It can only be said that some aspects of our two products did not meet the requirements of Japanese users, but the direction is definitely not a problem. We have also done the simulation business “Sorrow Monopoly” before, and achieved some stage results. In fact, it has achieved good results in China, but it is difficult for you to tell a gameplay in China, and it can also be done in Japan. Chinese players are more concerned about the rankings, and the simulation management is playing the rankings. Japanese players don’t care about this, it will be more difficult, and this Monopoly product had a competitive product that was launched earlier than ours, and in the end there was no particularly good result. , So sometimes it’s not that the product doesn’t work, it’s because of market reasons or users’ unacceptable reasons. It’s hard to say that a product will go up in a certain way. You can only say that the gameplay and themes are relatively acceptable to users and have a certain possibility of success. We believe that in the Japanese market, women’s products must be a direction that can be explored.
CIS:So the two new products mentioned above, how are they different from products like SLG in terms of promotion, including channel selection, level of investment, etc.?
Zhang Wei:There is still a big difference. SLG products are mainly targeted at precise users, such as men over 28 or 30-40 years old, who have a certain ability to pay, because more than 80% of these products are male users. For example, some card games, such as the product we just mentioned, “Animal Funday”, its user ratio is more coordinated, because the animal images in it are more cute, attracting more female users; and the number of female users is sure to be the majority of game users. They are all women, and they don’t conflict with SLG at all. So we think about it this way. We rarely do KOLs like SLG. Many people told me that the KOLs in the Japanese market are effective. We have done it, but the effect is not very good. The reason is that the audience of SLG is very small. Let KOL spread it. In fact, it is these people who have passed it back and forth. Maybe the user plate of Japanese SLG is only 2 to 3 million. Sometimes our new online products will even have some marginal substitution effects on our own similar products. , But fortunately they are all their own users (laughs). The female direction and cards, etc., are more suitable for KOL and other methods. For SLG products, we will be more cautious in the early stage. We will first buy the volume and look at the performance of the data, etc., because if you are doing marketing, it is difficult to track the effect, and it is not as intuitive as accurate buying. Of course, the strategies of big companies will be more radical, such as large-scale marketing before going online, and all kinds of methods are used. This is that each company has its own strategy. If you have strength and confidence, do it.
CIS:I want to open up my mind here. I just talked about official products. You mentioned that some gameplay may be successful if you change the subject matter. Is it possible to use IP like “Tai Ge Zhi Chuan” to be official? 6 Has Wves considered IP cooperation?
Zhang Wei:Will also consider. But there are some problems. If you talk about the Japanese market, you must also choose Japanese IP. After many Japanese IPs are licensed to you, they are reluctant to let you distribute them in Japan. They will be more worried that the licensed products will affect it. His brand. If we only focus on the Japanese market, this cooperation will be more difficult to discuss. If we say that we go to the Greater China region first, and if the IP side performs well, then the IP side will open up the Japanese region. This is not in line with our strategy. As for the cooperation method you mentioned, instead of investing in the budget to get the IP, it is better to do it yourself, because the IP of Japanese Warring States History is actually open. Taking the IP will certainly help in the initial stage, and the unit price of the purchase is also cheap, but as I said earlier, the audience of this type of IP is still relatively small, and the purchase price will be about the same after a period of time, and you have to give the IP Square divided. So sometimes if you take the IP, everything is not OK, each has its own pros and cons.
CIS:Finally, look forward to the future that can be seen, what other changes will there be and what opportunities are there in the Japanese market?
Zhang Wei:In a few years, the Chinese market may become like the Japanese market, with many large factories and small factories struggling. The Japanese market will have a certain growth in the next few years, not a lot, but will be relatively stable. In addition, in the short term, the epidemic has brought us an increase in income, but in the long term, Japan’s economy has not been very good in the past two years, so we are not sure whether user spending in the Japanese market will increase. Then, Chinese companies get together to enter the Japanese market, so the competition in the Japanese market will definitely become more and more fierce. Japan’s domestic competition has been drawn up. Korean companies are just a few we are familiar with. American companies are relatively few in Japan. Most of the new and competitive companies in Japan are Chinese companies. In the next stage, the Japanese market’s SLG and MMO categories with relatively high issuance thresholds are more difficult for small and medium-sized manufacturers to do. Therefore, whether it is two-dimensional or card or other categories, it may be small and medium-sized. The company’s opportunities, of course, the market’s requirements for product quality will still be quite high. If you want to break the game, you need a new category, such as “Wild Action” that first entered Japan at that time, or the previous official products, etc., or there are some independent and novel games on the domestic list. This kind of product Is there a chance in Japan? You can try.
Source: Independent Sea Federation