Could Chinese Indie Devs Revolutionize The Gaming Scene?

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I spent a ton of time thinking about what to write this article about. I know that sounds stupid, but it was the product of me going on a big hunt around google trying to find out what the state of indie games development in china was, sadly as with most things involving the vagaries of Chinese systems, information on specifics is scant.

I was able to glean a few different things, namely that the mobile market in china is massive and far outweighs console and PC gaming, one thing that probably contributes to this is that platforms like Steam were heavily regulated by the government, only just recently becoming more accessible and even now, for western games to be published in china they have to go through a slow, expensive and laborious review process. Not to mention that consoles across the board were entirely banned until 2015.

To me, this all adds up to the conclusion that the PC/console gaming communities in china are only just budding, I feel like we take for granted in the west the fact that we have a good 20-30 years of games development to look back on as reference, it’s tied into our culture and the most popular games are those that either straight up iterate on past success or riff on established tropes.

My point here is that it seems western publishers are finally beginning to invest in Chinese devs. We’ve recently seen Team17 announce their intention to publish My Time At Portia, a Harvest Moon-esque game from Chinese devs Pathea, it could do well too; riding on the coat-tails of the breakout success of Stardew Valley.

If this trend continues, we will surely see more and more Chinese games enter the market with proper budgets for marketing and PR, meaning we’ll see the rise of their influence on the front pages of places like Steam and Reddit, they’re bound to eventually go viral and possibly may break the hold of cynical cash-grab mobile games on the Chinese public, a market worth more than $22 billion and consisting of well...a potential billion people.

To me, this is innately a good thing, there is nothing more exciting than watching a rich, inventive and enthusiastic people so very culturally disconnected from us starting to become involved in a medium that thrives on innovation, if the western and eastern worlds are truly on a path to meet and integrate in the near future, then the face of gaming as a whole will change as we see many new names and IPs rise, we may even see a shift away from a US-centric focus on the market as the potential size of the Chinese consumer world is unfathomable.

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John Steadman

Games are more than a passion for John, having cut his teeth on the commodore 64 at a young age, remembering fondly that rafts of floppy disks required to install Monkey Island on his dad's Amiga 1500, games have been a way of life and a source of endless entertainment. Now all he wants to do is use his boundless experience to help inform and maybe amuse a new generation of gamers in this fast-paced and ever changing scene.

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