After breaking through the Japanese market with the help of “Dragon Fantasy” in April last year, in the second half of the year, “Saint Seiya RISING COSMO” (hereinafter referred to as “Saint Seiya” mobile game) also released by Tencent went online less than 24 hours before reaching the top of Japan. App Store and Google Play free list, the first week downloads exceeded 1 million.
Some people may attribute this market performance to the influence of IP, but in fact, the Japanese animation market is fiercely competitive. The IP content of “Saint Seiya” was completed earlier, and the nationality is not high compared to the popular IPs nowadays. Japanese manufacturers have previously launched 3 mobile games with the same IP, and the actual performance is far less than this one. So, where is the secret of its success?
The “On the Road” column sponsored by Tencent Game Academy invited the Japanese publisher and producer of the mobile game “Saint Seiya”, Mr. Reed, to review the entire product release process. In his view, the performance of this game in the Japanese market is not only due to its own quality, but also due to the distribution team’s customized strategy in localization, pre-registration and UA launch.
You can learn about Reed’s sharing content through the interview video or the following interview text excerpt:
When did you start preparing for the release of the “Saint Seiya” mobile game in Japan?
Reed: We officially started preparing for the release of this game at the end of April last year. Because it was the local distribution of Japanese IP, it was only through a relatively long period of communication that the distribution rights were finally obtained.
How is the launch time of the “Saint Seiya” mobile game set?
Reed: We hope to be as early as possible, because considering the launch cost and efficiency, new games in the Japanese market are not suitable for launching at the end of the year. However, the localization of the game involved the translation and dubbing of more than 1 million words of text, combined with the actual capabilities of the team, and was finally set to go live in September.
How is the development of “Saint Seiya” IP in the Japanese market? In the sharing of TGDC at the end of last year, it seemed to be called the “sleeping national IP”.
Reed: “Saint Seiya” IP has more than 35 years of history in Japan and is a classic work full of memories. However, we found through research that may be affected by the early completion of the content and the fierce competition of animation works in the Japanese market. The fan base of this IP is relatively small and not very active. The core users are mainly male office workers over 35 years old. .
Before our game went live, Japanese manufacturers such as Bandai and DeNA had launched 3 mobile games adapted from “Saint Seiya” IP, which also consumed the feelings of IP fans. The user level and revenue performance of the three models are not high.
So where are our opportunities for this game?
Reed: Compared with competing products, the picture quality and expressiveness of “Saint Seiya Rising Cosmo” has obvious advantages. Before the game’s national server was launched, it attracted the attention of some Japanese players and the media. They called it “Tencent Seiya.” Therefore, when we promoted it, we focused on “The Highest Quality Saint Seiya Mobile Game”. While restoring the classic plot, we focused on highlighting the differences in art performance and gameplay.
We stratified the target users at that time. The game players accumulated by the IP game of “Saint Seiya” were our most important seed users. Secondly, we hope to convert IP users who have not had much contact with mobile games into players. It is hoped to attract the attention of some turn-based card players.
In the case of poor performance of competing IP products in the past, why this game can achieve double free list first within 24 hours of launch?
Reed: I think there are three main reasons. First, we made a lot of localization adjustments according to the habits of Japanese players to improve the game experience.
Second, users in the pre-registration stage are found more accurately, and the actual conversion rate is high.
Third, when we launched UA, we not only paid attention to mainstream platforms such as Facebook and Google, but also targeted mid- to long-tail channels with a high proportion of male users in their 30s and 40s. The initial user acquisition cost was lower than expected. As long as we can pay back, we will continue to invest.
In addition, it is the first time for us to release a Japanese IP (adapted game) in Japan. We very much hope that Japanese players will realize that we attach importance to the Japanese market. Therefore, we have invested a lot in publicity and our operation strategy is also very sincere.
When the game was officially launched, we not only placed endorsement advertisements on Japan’s Fuji, Asahi and other mainstream TV stations, but also modified the way of drawing cards for Japanese users in the game. At the same time, we set up a special game welfare station to make users clearer. The SSR and abundant resource rewards that can be obtained through game activities have lowered the threshold for user conversion as a whole.
As the spokesperson, we chose Minami Tanaka, who has both a goddess temperament and a high popularity among middle-aged Japanese users. However, after we reviewed, in fact, we can be more cautious about the endorsement of real people. For some users, they are reluctant to see the image in their minds and become a particularly concrete real person. This is also something I hope everyone can pay attention to.
Let’s talk one by one, what are the focuses of the localization of this game in the Japanese market?
Reed: First of all, the degree of reproduction of this game should meet the demands of core fans, so we specially invited 18 core voice actors of the original animation to participate in the dubbing of the Japanese service, and use the full voice form to enhance the immersion of the performance.
Secondly, at the product level, the “Saint Seiya” mobile game was originally designed for Chinese users. The habits of Chinese and Japanese card users are different. We need to simplify the main interface UI to improve readability; streamline the novice guidance process , Add a graphical module similar to the Japanese console game-although some users sometimes still complain that they don’t know how to play…
Cards are also a mainstream category in Japan, why do they not understand?
Reed: The design concepts of Chinese and Japanese cards are actually different. Most Japanese card mobile games have relatively simple structures, mainly character development and PvE. The development line of Chinese cards will be richer, and PvP has also been added. We have compressed some content as much as possible.
At the same time, Japanese users pay more attention to the use of IP packaging gameplay, so the combination of gameplay activities and IP in the Japanese server is more in-depth than other versions, and the output logic is also optimized. Before the game launched an asymmetrical mini gameplay on Halloween, we combined IP to package it into the theme of escaping from the orphanage, and the player participation rate was twice as high as that of the overseas service.
In addition, we have also adjusted the pace of commercialization. Japanese card players need faster content update iterations, so we have also increased the speed of new cards online, and modified the limited card pool, guarantees and other mechanisms according to the habits of Japanese card users. Fortunately, the national server has been online for a year. More, the content reserve is relatively rich, so that we can deal with it calmly.
Then let’s talk about pre-registration. When did the pre-registration of this game start? How to set goals?
Reed: We launched a pre-registration activity in early August, and it is almost a month and a half before the product goes online. We have reached 300,000 pre-registrations with IP competing products before. We set the pre-registration target at 500,000 based on the overall situation of the manga game, but I was actually a little nervous because the 300,000 pre-registered competing product was officially launched. Failed to enter the top 5 free list that day.
How will you attract users to participate in pre-registration activities?
Reed: At this stage, we mainly hope to get the attention of IP core users. First, we launched nearly 200 local media, and continued to publish promotional content related to “Saint Seiya” IP and gameplay, covering a wide range of potential users, and then using social media. The platform interacts closely with players and uses the social relationship chain for secondary communication.
Which social media do you focus on?
Reed: First of all, Twitter. It is the most important communication platform for game officials and players in the Japanese market. We will quickly synchronize game play, activity updates, and solutions to related issues in the official push. Because we made it clear that Twitter is very important at the beginning, we deliberately set an operating goal of 50,000 followers when it went online. Later, the actual number of followers once exceeded 100,000.
Next is Line. Many game manufacturers did not pay much attention to this platform before. We tried to use it as a tool for players to search strategy. The effect was very good. The number of followers has been increasing. Now the number of fans has exceeded the official recommendation.
Then there is Discord, which is an important channel for collecting core user feedback. Our questionnaire has a high recovery rate in the Discord zone. Players will write a large number of opinions and suggestions under the open questions, which are very helpful to the tuning and operation of the game.
What should I pay attention to when using social media to communicate with players?
Reed: On the one hand, we must work hard to build trust. Many Japanese players have doubts about products issued by overseas manufacturers, and worry that the game will make a lot of money. Therefore, pay attention to two points when communicating. One is that the information is symmetrical. Any operation measures must be announced in advance and detailed explanations should be provided. Japanese players Will “dig” the details of the announcement; the second is to give feedback in time, communicate as soon as there is a problem, and prevent the situation from getting worse.
On the other hand, it is necessary to strengthen interaction and make more use of Twitter’s API (such as dialogue cards), Line keywords and other functions. You can also regularly set up some small rewards, such as Amazon cards, game objects, etc., to encourage users to participate in discussions.
Then there is UA advertising, how do you develop advertising strategies?
Reed: Similar to other products, it combines the game itself to explore material selling points. “Saint Seiya” has been launched in many overseas markets before, and has accumulated some original materials, so we have stored hundreds of independent materials in the early stage.
In the delivery process, we will recycle the material conversion effect every day and refine the commonalities of high-quality materials. Materials such as the show of game characters and live-action videos are all effective in the Japanese market.
So how did you find the medium and long tail delivery channels mentioned earlier?
Reed: We analyze the channels through which Japanese male office workers over the age of 35 usually obtain information and which platforms they are active on, and then make trial and error on a small scale. Later, several local information platforms, such as Yahoo and Smartnews, had good results. Our vertical channels accounted for close to 30%.
After releasing two products for the Japanese market, what do you think of the Japanese mobile game market now? I feel that the competition for domestic games in Japan is getting fiercer.
Reed: Yes, there is even a proper term “Chinese GAME” in Japan now, as a general term for domestic games.
However, opportunities still exist. At present, 70%-80% of the products in the Japanese game market are more traditional card or two-dimensional products. Domestic games are competing in these fields. We must find ways to widen the gap in content and art craftsmanship. Make some differences in gameplay. Some categories of Japanese manufacturers have insufficient accumulation and cannot produce them in a short time, such as large-scale MMOs or multiplayer competitive mobile games. This will still be a breakthrough for domestic games.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that now overseas markets have more and more stringent privacy compliance requirements, and domestic manufacturers must make plans to deal with them when they go to Japan.
Source: Tencent Game Academy