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OMG! Zombies on the Great Wall of China!

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Slides from a GDC 2013 talk on how PopCap achieved success in China with a local adapation of Plants vs. Zombies -- and general advice for any western company considering entry into the Chinese market.

Published in: Entertainment & Humor
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OMG! Zombies on the Great Wall of China!

  1. OMG!Zombies on the Great Wall of ChinaJames GwertzmanHead of Strategic Development, PopCap Games
  2. ●Hire too fast●Hire the wrong people●Copy strategy from the west●Unrealistic expectations
  3. Challenges in China● High piracy● Highly competitive market● “Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality● High staff turnover● Top down management style● Low quality
  4. Challenges in China Strength● High piracy s ● Efficient distribution of great IP● Highly competitive market● “Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality● High staff turnover● Top down management style● Low quality
  5. Challenges in China Strength● High piracy s ● Efficient distribution of great IP● Highly competitive market ● Free testing of new ideas● “Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality● High staff turnover● Top down management style● Low quality
  6. Challenges in China Strength● High piracy s ● Efficient distribution of great IP● Highly competitive market ● Free testing of new ideas● “Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality ● Fast iteration; flexible mindset● High staff turnover● Top down management style● Low quality
  7. Challenges in China Strength● High piracy s ● Efficient distribution of great IP● Highly competitive market ● Free testing of new ideas● “Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality ● Fast iteration; flexible mindset● High staff turnover ● Continuous upgrading of talent● Top down management style● Low quality
  8. Challenges in China Strength● High piracy s ● Efficient distribution of great IP● Highly competitive market ● Free testing of new ideas● “Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality ● Fast iteration; flexible mindset● High staff turnover ● Continuous upgrading of talent● Top down management style ● Rapid decision making● Low quality
  9. Challenges in China Strength● High piracy s ● Efficient distribution of great IP● Highly competitive market ● Free testing of new ideas● “Ready, Fire, Aim” mentality ● Fast iteration; flexible mindset● High staff turnover ● Continuous upgrading of talent● Top down management style ● Rapid decision making● Low quality ● “Minimal viable product”
  10. MerchandisingConfidential 28-Mar-13 13
  11. More than 8,000,000 sold!
  12. PvZ Great Wall Edition (launched 5/18/2012)
  13. Gross Revenue (USD) Chinese New Year Journey to West version Add 25 levels & 5 bosses Freemium to endless mode Added 2 new zombies & new game modes Other channels Reduce client 22M->18M launched Reduce running memory 150M->63M Add Chinese zombies in adventure mode Reduce client 11.5M ->8.4MReduce client 37M->22M Price adjustment Add Endless mode 10/… 10/… 10/… 11/… 11/… 11/… 12/… 12/… 12/… 5/13 5/20 5/27 6/3 6/10 6/17 6/24 7/1 7/8 7/15 7/22 7/29 8/5 8/12 8/19 8/26 9/2 9/9 9/16 9/23 9/30 10/7 11/4 12/2 12/9 1/6 1/13 1/20 1/27 2/3 2/10 2/17 2/24 3/3 3/10 3/17
  14. May 19, 2012Added in-game transactions Pay Wall: Limit at level 1-6 5- 19 Gold: Unlock mini- Feb 24, 2013 games, survival & endless modes, buy reusable items 2- 24 Diamonds: Buy consumable items, continue game over
  15. Top 5 Consumable Items Item Usage Bomb Boost: ($.20) Adventure Mode Clear all zombies Sun 500: ($.09) Add 500 suns Sun 2000: ($.27) Add 2000 suns Endless Mode Survival Mode Gatling pea: ($.30) Buy once Cob Cannon: ($.30) Buy once
  16. Direct carrier billing● No account and passwords needed● Stay in game, only 2 clicks to pay
  17. Added new content Endless Mode: 8/1/12 Last Stand Endless: 10/1/12 Journey to the West: 1/31/13
  18. Journey to West zombies (1)
  19. Journey to West zombies (2)
  20. Journey to West maps
  21. Optimization File Download Size 72M→8M 150M→48M Memory Runtime RAM 256MB +Low-end ROM 512 MB + Devices Android OS 2.2 +
  22. Merging & reusing images: ↓34MMusic: 13 songs to 1 ↓ 12MSound effect: WAV to OGG ↓3MFonts: Remove TTF, system only ↓3.6MPicture & Animation: ↓11M 24-bit PNG to 8-bit PNG
  23. 0 10000 20000 30000 50000 60000 70000 80000 5/20 4000018M 5/27 22M to 6/3 6/10 6/17 6/24 7/1 7/8 7/15 7/22 7/29 8/5 8/12 8/19 8/26 9/2 11.5M 9/9 18M to 9/16 9/23 9/30 10/710/1410/2110/28 11/4 11.5M11/11 to 8.4M11/18 Daily Installs11/25 12/2 12/912/1612/2312/30 1/6 1/13 1/20 1/27 2/3 2/10 2/17 2/24 3/3 3/10
  24. Add distribution channels 91.com UC Baidu 安卓市场 豌豆荚 d.cn 360 AppChina MI Store Tencent
  25. Add anti-hacking measures● MD5 verification code for save-game file● Code obfuscation to avoid memory hacks● On-going battle…
  26. Pay wall A/B test #1Week of Nov 21-27Android build / mainland China Revenue Paid Test Case Installs Paid Users Revenue/Install (RMB) User % Remove pay wall 82,592 90,111 13,859 8.8% 1.1 Keep pay wall 280,274 824,293 87,080 12.4% 2.9
  27. Pay wall A/B test #2Week of Dec 22-29Android build / mainland China Test Case Unlock revenue / install Pay wall at 1-6 100% Pay wall at 1-3 132%
  28. Freepromotion: From 2/21 to 2/28 experiment Free App of the WeekWeek of Feb 21iOS build / mainland China
  29. Top grossing rank dropped from No.13 to No.35
  30. What’s Next?● Continue operating/improving Great Wall● Bring lessons back to Seattle ● Android ● Free-to-play ● Merchandising

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