· 6 min read

Top Tips for Choosing Hyper-Casual Publishing Partners in China

Our friends at Joypac cover those important questions you need to ask when taking the plunge and publishing your game with partners in China.

There are quite a few things a developer or publisher needs to consider before working with a Chinese publisher.

Here are some of the big questions you should be asking:

Would their current partners recommend them?

You can ask the publisher to show you examples of the games they’ve launched, companies they work with and what results they’re getting. But that can only tell you so much.

It can be extremely insightful to check who they’re already working with and contact those people directly. We recommend talking to at least two or three of the publisher’s current partners. Every developer might have had a different experience and hearing only one story might not tell you everything you need to know.

Who’s on their team and how is it structured?

You should find out what the publishing team looks like. Do they have account managers, UA, product managers?

Get familiar with the people you’ll be in regular contact with and the people who’ll work on your game. You should know if it’s worth it to open up your source code to this partner – not only to put in SDKs but also to implement special events and special content for the market.

This can be difficult to assess when you’re just getting to know a partner. So you should ask questions like:

  • How is the team structured?
  • Who am I going to talk to?
  • How’s the cooperation with the team?
  • How about new content? Are we doing that together?

What kinds of games are they looking for?

Sometimes developers don’t show games to a publisher because they think it won’t be ‘their thing’. But that developer could well be looking to shift or expand their focus into other genres. This is especially relevant to casual, hyper-casual and idle games – many publishers are now branching out into these genres for the first time.

So even if your game doesn’t seem to fit with what you see on the publisher’s website, you should still reach out and ask if they’d be interested. They’re usually pretty forthright about whether they’d like to talk about it more or not.

How transparent are they?

This can be a tricky subject to ask about – especially right at the start of your relationship with a publisher. There are certainly a few key areas you should discuss with them. Transparency is an important aspect of a partnership, but you have to word your questions carefully and be specific.

We suggest being upfront with questions like:

  • What will we see in monthly reports?
  • What data will we have access to?
  • How often will there be update meetings?
  • Will you have a shared Slack channel or something similar?
  • Will you be able to reach out to an account manager and a UA manager regularly?
  • Will you be informed about any changes to your game?

This is another area where you can learn from talking to other developers who’ve already partnered with this publisher. They’ll be able to tell you about their experiences, how they communicated and what tools they were using. Of course, there’ll be some NDAs in place, so they won’t be able to share exact numbers – but they can give you a good idea of what to expect.

What should I pay attention to when signing a contract?

Asking for and checking the contract template beforehand is very important.

It’s often easier in the hyper-casual market – you have a lot of games being published, so more people have been in contact with more companies. This makes it easier to get an overview of what publishers are offering. It’s not exactly the same, but there’s a fairly reliable market of the adjusted terms you get offered. The terms get a little less favorable the bigger a partner is, but this is a trade-off for access to a bigger marketing machine.

Try to find the right balance between talking to the publisher directly and asking other people who’ve worked with them before. Publishers are usually very open about this and have standardized sets of deal terms, which you can usually negotiate a bit.

In general, we’d say it’s important to review things like:

  • Will you get gross revenue share or profit share?
  • Is the minimum guarantee or upfront payment recoupable?
  • What happens to the IP rights?
  • What’s the governing law and arbitration process?
  • Under what circumstances can you terminate the contract?

How well can they adapt your game to Chinese culture?

Hyper-Casual games don’t need as much localization as, let’s say, mid-core games – where people want to see complete redesigns of menus, content and color schemes. But you’ll need to make sure your publishing partner knows Chinese culture and can adapt your game to suit it. Check if they have an engineering team that can work on the game directly.

For hyper-casual games, you need only the basic changes that anyone would need to enter the Chinese market. So it’s worth checking your publisher knows the rules around showing violent content and can do a very precise job on the translation (because text-based games don’t translate easily from Western to Eastern languages).

The Chinese market is highly competitive and tricky to overcome, but it can also get your game out to millions of new players. By getting the answers to the questions we’ve listed here, you’ll be able to find the right publishing partner to help you deal with any issues.

About JoyPac

Our main mission is to help studios from outside China gain access to this growing gaming economy – quickly and at scale. With teams in Copenhagen and China, we’re set up to easily tackle the most common problems Western companies face when looking for the right partner in the territory.

Our specialists in Copenhagen act as the main point of contact for developers throughout the West from negotiating contracts to live operations. This significantly reduces the cultural and communicative hurdles developers need to overcome. Meanwhile, our Beijing office provides the boots on the ground necessary to successfully release and operate a game in China.

If you want to learn more about publishing in China, feel free to get in touch with us.