Mobile video game maker SGN has teamed with one of China's top technology companies to bring Facebook's game of the year to the Asian nation fascinated with all things American, the companies announced Tuesday.
Finding good fortune in China with the matching game "Cookie Jam" is critical for SGN, according to the Beverly Hills-based developer's chief executive.
"China is obviously very important for content makers in L.A.," Chris DeWolfe said. "It's the third-largest app economy -- soon to be the largest -- and there's a big appetite for American content, for films, for theme parks and it's the same for games."
But launching apps in China is a messy process because instead of having just two large app stores like the U.S. (Apple and Google), there are 15 important ones in China, DeWolfe said. Translating, testing in focus groups and rolling out marketing would be a gargantuan effort for SGN's 140 employees.
Instead, NetEase, a company known for some hit PC and console games as well as major websites in China, will help SGN get "Cookie Jam" into all those app stores in exchange for share of advertising and in-app purchases revenue.
"They're streamlining the process in a huge way," DeWolfe said.
Tencent is the leading game publisher in China. But Tencent already works with "Cookie Jam" competitor "Candy Crush," which along with "Clash of Clans" and "Angry Birds" has found success in China.
"We decided to go with NetEase as a competitor to Tencent," DeWolfe said. "And they came up with a super thoughtful marketing plan to work with Chinese and U.S. brands."
It's the first time SGN is tailoring one of its titles specifically for China. The launch is expected early next year.
"Cookie Jam" has been downloaded more than 30 million times and Facebook named it the game of the year for 2014 last week.
Overall, about 70% of app-based revenue comes from outside the U.S., DeWolfe said. That figure is at about 55% for SGN, which has a goal of 65%. The company plans to have "boots on the ground" in Japan beginning next year and is also considering its publishing options in South Korea and Indonesia.