In China, How Is Publishing A Game Different From Publishing An App?

By Todd KuhnsLast Updated on Dec 27, 2019
In China, How Is Publishing A Game Different From Publishing An App?

Mobile games in China are big business – and, as a result, they are more tightly regulated and controlled than a non-gaming mobile app.

Here are the four primary differences between publishing a mobile game and a non-gaming app in China:


In addition to the Software Copyright Certificate (SCC) (and sometimes ICP license) required for standard apps, all mobile games published in China require an additional gaming license, issued by a provincial government agency. Because of the demand, it can take up to three months for the license to be approved, although a fast-track option is available for an additional fee. Additionally, all licenses can be applied for concurrently, in order to save time. 

A separate license is required for each game, and the fee is quite high. However, popular games make back their investment quickly, due to the sheer size and enthusiasm of the Chinese gaming market.

Payments Integration

Because games are the primary cash cow for app stores, nearly every app store in China requires developers to integrate the store’s own payment solution, so that the stores handle your payments and set the terms for your revenue share. Currently, the revenue share Chinese app stores require is higher than in Western markets, with app and games stores asking for 50% at minimum, and some even higher. Although not ideal, many of our clients are happy with this arrangement because of the exposure to 

On a practical level, this means that you will need to compile a separate APK for each store that will be hosting your game. Which leads to…

App Stores vs. Game Stores

On the Apple App Store and Google Play, you will find both standard apps and games listed, with separate categories to distinguish them. In China, while you will find games listed on many of the top app stores, there are also a number of games-only app stores for Android where gamers generally go to find games. Some games stores host as many as possible, while others have their own niche – such as casual games, or games for children.

Because all app stores require payment integration – which means a separate APK for each store, as well as a payments agreement with each one – it makes sense from a maintenance perspective for most developers to be more judicial about where they post their apps.

This is why we recommend posting your games on a mix of app stores that includes a select few of the top app stores in China and the games stores that best fit your game. This can be tricky, because the stores that can deliver you the best download rates are not always the most popular ones. 

Your dedicated account manager at AppInChina can help you select the distribution strategy that best fits your brand, product, and goals. Over time, as analytics data comes rolling in, we can help fine-tune your strategy to focus on the best-performing stores and adjust the other listings accordingly.

Changing Regulations

Because of the perceived potential negative effects that excessive gaming can have on youth, the Chinese government has been focusing its regulatory efforts on gaming of all kinds in recent years – going so far as to limit times that online games can be available to minors, and restricting minors’ access to game centers to weekends and holidays only. 

Furthermore, laws and regulations in China are often issued abruptly and without prior warning or public discussion. Companies are expected to fall into line and cannot assume their products or services will be “grandfathered” into compliance. Although this is true of everything, the additional focus on games in recent years means that game developers need to remain on their toes and be willing to adjust to market conditions as they change.

The AppInChina Advantage

Since 2013, our international, Beijing-based team has been bringing foreign mobile apps and games to China. Our experienced English-speaking account managers know the market and have the relationships necessary to navigate this complicated but vastly rewarding landscape. We stay on top of rules and regulations so that you don’t have to – freeing you up to continue to make awesome games for players around the world.

Contact us to start a conversation, and we’ll put together a quick custom solution to fit your needs.