Simon Chen
10 March 2020 0 Comments

There’s nothing quite like staying indoors for a couple of weeks to hone in on your gaming addiction. The coronavirus outbreak and resulting time people are spending inside their homes has seen a sharp increase in Chinese playing games. At the peak of the outbreak, Chinese were spending 6.11 billion hours a day online – over seven hours for each of China’s 840 million online consumers.

Of the online activities, mobile gaming attributed to the largest growth in daily users, with 20% of growth in users of the top apps coming from mobile games, and 38% of mini programs. Chinese spent an average of 159 minutes a day playing games over the Spring Festival period in 2020, versus just 113 minutes in Spring Festival in 2019.

Gaming has long been a popular activity for Chinese, with close to 600 million players before the outbreak. Yet the addictiveness of gaming is likely to see much of the increased popularity over the outbreak maintained when things turn back to normal. As a result, gaming will become an even more relevant channel to build your brand preference and ultimately sales.

Who are China’s gamers?

A quick look into China’s 600 million gamers shows a population representing a strong cross section of its lucrative millennial demographic. Females account for almost half of China’s players. If we take a look at NewZoo’s studies into three of Chinese biggest games: Dota 2 and Honor of Kings, we can see an average age of close to 30, with female participation of mid-40%.

Chinese gamer demographics

Brand Affiliation with Gaming in China

There’s no shortage of case studies with brands partnering with games. We’ve selected a couple of games to illustrate what brands are doing – Honor of Kings and Game for Peace.

Honor of Kings China Honor of Kings

Launched: November 2015

Daily users during 2020 Spring Festival: 95 million

Average daily use time during Spring Festival: 194 minutes; 75.1% rise y.o.y

Honor of Kings has worked with beauty, accessories, food & beverage and luxury brands. With over 50% of players under 25, and 90% are under 35, the game provides an engaged and emotional channel for connecting to these millennials in the most crowded targeted demographic in China.

Mac collaboration with Honor of Kings

While many game collaborations in China target males, MAC cleverly reached the 44% of the games players who are female, and an increasing population of Chinese males wearing lipstick. Early last year, Mac launched five lipsticks themed on five Honor of Kings heroes, priced at ¥170 each ($25). The promotion also used five members from the band Rocket Girls 101  (of reality TV fame) to personify the heroes and expand the reach through their Weibo followings as high as 24 million.

MAC made a clever play on the Honor of Kings phrase “Hold still, we can win,” swapping it out for “Kiss still, we can win.” ‘Kiss’ and ‘Hold’ share the same pronunciation of Wen in Chinese.

The Diao Chan and Lu Na lipsticks sold out within seconds. Visitors to MAC’s official website grew by 3,000% with the topic “MAX X Honor of Kings” attracting over 35 million views and 40,000 discussions on Weibo.

Honor of Kings Lipstick Honor of Kings MAC Lipstick Lu Na Honor of Kings Lu Na Honor of Kings lipstick

MAC X Honor of Kings Honor of Kings X MAC Honor of Kings Partnership Honor of Kings Collaboration

Honor of Kings Diao Chan lipstick Honor of Kings Diao Chan MAC lipstick

A month after MAC’s successful collaboration was followed a month later Jewellery brand Chow Sang Sang partnered with Honor of Kings for branded products, and Netease’s Onmyoji game. The brand’s collaboration including naming jewellery pieces after the game and collaborating with famous Japanese animation One Piece and Naruto to bring them to life. A year later, all of the products are still available, with sales of some pieces over 1,000.

Honor of Kings X Chow Sang Sang Honor of Kings and Chow Sang Sang Honor of Kings, Chow Sang Sang Partnership Honor of Kings Partnership Chow Sang Sang

Baidu Searches Honor of King Chow Sang SangAs noted in the Baidu search index below, searches soared when the Honor of Kings promotions were launched.

Even before MAC and Chow Sang Sang were on the Honor of Kings wagon, Parker Pens had partnered with the game to launch four branded pens characterised by four heroes: Libai (Honor), Di Renjie (Justice), Zhuge Liang (Wisdom) and Zhuang Zhou (Dream). The collaboration allowed the brand to reach young Chinese customer luxury consumers who account for a much larger portion of luxury sales than in western markets.

Parker Pens X Honor of Kings Parker Pens partners Honor of Kings Parker Pens collaboration Honor of Kings Parker Pens and Honor of Kings Parker Pens, Honor of Kings Parker Pens special Honor of Kings edition Parker Pens special Honor of Kings

Honor of Kings X MicoFMCG brand Meco launched five new products with branded packaging based on five heroes from the Honor of Kings. The five characters are part of an official group called “infinite kings” who have countless fans and even a fan club. Fans who buy the products can scan the QR code on the packaging to be rewarded with in-game items such as new costumes, virtual money, and so on.




Game for Peace Game for Peace

Launched: November 2018

Daily users during 2020 Spring Festival: 80 million

Average daily use time during Spring Festival: 124 minutes; 24.6% rise y.o.y

Game for Peace has mainly workedwith films, TV shows and food & beverage, with luxury car brand Maserati also capitalising on Game of Peace top app ranking.

Maserati partnership with Game of Peace ChinaMaserati X Game of Peace collaboration China

Maserati timed its collaboration with Game for Peace beautifully from the 24 Jan-20 Feb 2020, capturing the spike in gaming over this year’s Spring Festival. The partnership saw players able to skin their cars with a Maserati in the game.

The hashtag for the Game of Peace X Maserati took off on Douyin – another app which surged over the break. The hashtag saw 11,000 videos uploaded and received 86 million views.

Game of Peace has successfully partnered with popular culture including the Men in Black: International movie, Angry Birds, and Chinese variety TV program Who’s the Murderer.

Men in Black movie Game for Peace collaboration Men in Black movie Chinese game collaboration

Game of Peace and Angry Birds CollaborationAngry Birds Collaboration with Chinese game

Chinese game partnership with Angry BirdsGame of Peace x Angry BirdsGame of Peace and Angry Birds Partnership

Game of Peace X Who's the Murder Collaboration

FMCG brands Wang Lo Kat and Master Kong have also had placements within the game.

Wang Lo Kat X Game of Peace

Master Kong X Game of Peace collaborationMaster Kong placement in Game of Peace Chinese game

Takeaways for Brands

Although Beijing regulations trying to stall gaming popularity caused a couple of slow years in the industry, the coronavirus has seen the popularity of gaming soar. There has never been a more valuable time to reach the often-hard-connect with young demographics through the channel.

Clever collaborations with games can provide exposure and awareness when consumers are doing something they love. Gaming companies provide endless opportunities such as in-game placement and branded products. While these initiatives alone can be successful, a cross-channel promotion including key opinion leaders can amplify the benefits.

China Skinny can provide best practice advice on gaming promotions in as part of our overall marketing strategy, branding, product development advice and research. Contact us to find out more.