Playtesting of Chinese Games Crucial to Understanding Market

Includes: PWRD, TCTZF
by: Pearl Research

A common question from our clients at Pearl Research is how we would rate the content and services from game operators Shanda (NASDAQ:SNDA), Netease (NASDAQ:NTES), The9 (NASDAQ:NCTY), Giant Interactive (NYSE:GA) and Tencent (TCEHF.PK).

To fully understand how these titles will perform, Pearl Research conducts deep competitive of these titles through our playtesting, interviews with Chinese consumers and our exclusive online surveys.

By providing these analyses, especially when titles are in beta, we can provide investors a competitive advantage in understanding Chinese consumer reception to these games. Ultimately, the fates of these online game companies are determined by the legions of gamers and Internet users across China.

Below are some short excerpts from our previous Chinese online game product analysis:

Perfect World’s (NASDAQ:PWRD) Chibi

While Perfect World’s Chibi does a reasonable job of simulating a realistic, historical environment which is a key selling point for this game, it is rather imperfect in its execution of gameplay and innovation. Missions are repetitive and the item and quest types are basically categorized in the same way as WOW and other MMORPGs. In fact, Chibi has even less in terms of quest diversity. The graphics are above average and the fighting is similar to games such as Sohu’s Tianlong Babu.

However, Chibi brings some interesting ideas to the genre. For, example the unique marriage system is bound to be popular as well as the potential to hold government posts.

A movie of the same name, directed by John Woo, will be released before the 2008 summer Olympics and the Chinese government is hoping for it to be a great showcase of Chinese culture. Perfect World’s hope is that the Three Kingdom’s brand and the movie will give the game a boost among Chinese gamers.

Tencent’s Dungeon & Fighter

Tencent’s Dungeon & Fighter markets itself as the first 2D horizontal screen scrolling game which combines elements of an MMORPG. Many comparisons have been made to Maple Story, itself a 2D horizontal screen scrolling MMORPG, although Pearl Research believes that the games are very different. Gamers have praised the action style fighting elements from Dungeon & Fighter that previously was only available in single-player fighting games. At one point, Dungeon and Fighter was the top-played game in Korean Internet cafes in 2007, which bodes well for its performance in China.

A popular comment on Sina Gaming, a popular Chinese gaming site stated that Dungeon & Fighter combines the “fighting combinations of Capcom, the high-quality screen scrolling arcade style of SNK, the game settings of Sega, the storytelling of Square, the equipment interface of Blizzard, and the gaming spirit of Nintendo.”

Nonetheless, there have been critics of the game who dislike the arcade style of the game and claim that it can get repetitive. MMORPG purists have complained that the real-time fighting is too fast paced and does not give the player enough time to strategize. Overall, Dungeon & Fighter is a unique game that will find a niche among Chinese gamers.


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