Beijing-based Yodo1, a service that helps game developers enter the Chinese market, is today announcing it has closed $2 million in seed funding from Chang You Fund. The round was led by Chang You Fund’s Managing Partner and former Focus Media CEO Zhi Tan.
In addition to the funding, the company also noted that its developer partner Robot Entertainment will bring its “Hero Academy” game to the Chinese market.
The service Yodo1 provides offers more than language translations. It also helps developers with the other issues involving entering China, including distribution, integration with local monetization gateways and ad networks, problems with piracy and even cultural adaption of the game itself.
The “Hero Academy” game serves as a good example of what Yodo1 is capable of, in terms of getting games ready for Chinese consumers. The company added a whole new cast of characters to the game to complement the Western-style fantasy characters it originally had. For example, there are now Shaolin monks, flying swordsmen, and others included in the Chinese version. Plus, gamers will be able to invite friends to play through Chinese social service Sina Weibo and other local social networks.
Entering China is a big opportunity for developers – the country now leads the world in smartphone activations and 75% of Chinese smartphone owners also download games. China’s gaming market of paying players is 180 million and the mobile gamers population is expected to grow 31.8% to 215 million by the end of 2012, according to reports by Niko Partners and Analysis International.
“The number of smartphone handset deployments is set to double in China this year, there is no other industry where the biggest market in the world is experiencing such rapid growth,” said Zhi Tan of the investment opportunity. “Chinese mobile gamers demand great gaming experiences, so if the best from the West can successfully deploy in China, I am certain they will find great ROI. Yodo1 is the perfect partner to do just that.”
As many publishers know, making China work is not as simple as translating English text to Chinese. The app ecosystem is more fragmented over there, with many consumers buying games from OEM or carrier-owned app stores, for example. Payment methods, gateways, ad networks, and analytics gathering techniques also have to be adapted for the market in order for publishers to run a successful business. Chinese consumers like to pay via in-app purchases, for example, as opposed to paid app downloads. And China has an issue with privacy, which is why Yodo1 will help distribute developers’ apps through official stores in order to help replace pirated and copy cat versions.
Yodo1 was originally founded in 2011 by entrepreneurs with over 20 years experience and is run by CEO Henry Fong, whose previous experience includes time in leadership roles at Microsoft and Brocade Communications. He also founded a $80 million (US) Hong Kong listed venture fund and a pan-Asia market entry consulting firm that helped over 60 U.S. tech companies accelerate their businesses in Asia. Andy Lee, formerly managing director for Asia at San Francisco-based social game developer Kabam, also recently joined Yodo1 as an advisor.