Caixin
Apr 02, 2018 11:05 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Japan’s ‘Travel Frog’ Plans to Explore China

‘Travel Frog’ become a hit in China, with total downloads of 30 million in the country. Photo: VCG
‘Travel Frog’ become a hit in China, with total downloads of 30 million in the country. Photo: VCG

The little charming frog created by a Japanese game developer that has captured the hearts of millions of Chinese gamers will soon tour their own country.

AliGames, the gaming unit of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., said Monday that it has struck a deal with Japanese game developer Hit-Point to create a Chinese version of the popular mobile game “Travel Frog.”

“Tabikaeru,” or “Travel Frog,” allows users to take care of a little frog who travels to different destinations across Japan and brings back snapshots and souvenirs to its owner.

The game has become a hit in China since the beginning of the year despite being available only in Japanese. It topped the charts of free mobile games on Apple Inc.’s App Store in China in January and attracted total downloads of over 30 million, according to Alibaba.

AliGames said it has won the exclusive right to develop a Chinese version of “Travel Frog” and will add localized features into the game. Alibaba and the game’s Japanese developer will work together to explore further commercial cooperation in the China market.

AliGames didn’t say when the Chinese version of the game will be available, but it is facing challenges to reignite gamers’ passion in the app.

The popularity of mobile games is fading quickly. “Travel Frog,” which saw the number of daily users in China peak at 21.6 million in early February, has seen daily active users drop to 3.6 million on Mar. 27, according to data from market research firm Analysys.

Liao Xuhua, a gaming industry analyst at Analysys, said gamers’ attention is easily diverted by mushrooming new games. Meanwhile, the simple operation of “Travel Frog” also makes it a challenge to keep gamers interested in it.

But AliGames may still be able to realize greater business value from the game by developing related products and content, Liao said. Nearly 70% of “Travel Frog” users are women, who could be potential customers for products linked to the game.

Hit-Point in 2014 created a successful mobile-based cat-collecting game called “Neko Atsume.” The freely offered game had over 13 million downloads in total and has developed related film, emoji, stationery and other profit-making products.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com)

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