China's Female-oriented Game Market: Mature Yet Defi

After being influenced by hit products, the Chinese female-oriented game market has become increasingly mature, but it still lacks the support of high-quality games.

If you look at the best-selling list of the App Store in China, you will find that if you remove the casual category, which accounts for the largest share of the female market, and then remove themes such as palace fighting, there are actually not many female-oriented games that can stay in the market permanently.

China's female-oriented game market can only be considered "semi-mature" at its current maturity. Normal female-oriented games such as casual, palace fighting, and anthropomorphic games are developing steadily. Not only have large manufacturers already entered the market, but they will also always be evergreens on the charts. However, the number of core and otome-oriented games is pitifully small.

Is this market too insignificant? We have compiled some information and would like to talk about China's female-oriented game market.

Classification of Chinese female-oriented games

Many people are puzzled by the fact that the Chinese female-oriented game market must be divided into normal and core types. They believe that there is no need for this. The female-oriented market is the female-oriented market. As long as female players account for more than 50%, then this game is a female-oriented game.

This view is now difficult to sustain. With the development of the industry and changes in market trends, the segmentation of female-oriented games has become an inevitable trend.

When OneFriend went public, it disclosed a domestic female-oriented market analysis report commissioned by independent market research consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. The report selected five representative companies at the time, including OneFriend. Based on their revenue and market share, we can roughly judge that A is Tencent, B is Leyou, and C and D are most likely Paper Games and Seasun Entertainment.

Based on this and the general understanding of the industry, we can roughly divide the current Chinese female-oriented game market into the following categories based on their core gameplay:

First, casual games. Casual games are the largest segment of the current female-oriented game market in China, with Tencent and Leyou as the representative manufacturers, mainly focusing on elimination and placement games.

Second, palace fighting, personification, and dress-up. Palace fighting, personification, and dress-up are common ways of playing games for females. Like casual games, there is no clear love content, so they are unified with casual games and classified as normal games for females.

Palace fighting is represented by Wanyou Times, while anthropomorphism is one of the earliest gameplays in the female-oriented game market. The representative products in the current market are "Food Language" by Tianti Network, and the representative of the dress-up category are the "Nuannuan" series by Paper Games and "Yunshang Yuyi" by Tencent.

Third, otome online games. Compared with normal games, the biggest feature of otome games is that they use love fantasy as the main line of the game and use it to support the core gameplay of the game. Players take on the perspective of the heroine and have emotional intersections with NPC men. The representative work is "Love and Producer" produced by Paper Games in 2017.

Fourth, Otome stand-alone games. Compared with the former, Otome stand-alone games do not have common elements such as cultivation and cards in online games. The games are usually bought out or bought out plus in-app purchases. The main gameplay of the game is AVG, and the game process is advanced by plot choices.

In addition, danmei (gay romance) is also a branch of female-oriented games, but in fact you can hardly see danmei games in the Chinese market. The teahouse once asked the Press and Publication Administration for confirmation, and the answer was that there is no clear definition of danmei in China, and it depends on the specific content, but danmei publications usually involve non-mainstream values, so it is difficult to get through.

The famous Japanese BL game "Blood of the Dog"

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We basically don’t consider this market, or it’s not worth considering. Under the current domestic policies and regulations, it’s difficult for danmei games to become a hot spot in the female-oriented game market in a short period of time.

Through this review, we have a basic understanding of the current domestic female-oriented game market. The market share of normal female-oriented games in China is completely suppressed by otome games. Although "Love and Producer" in 2017 made many domestic game manufacturers see the prospects of the otome game market, it did not really ignite the otome game market. It is difficult for Papergames to ignite the market with only "Love and Producer" as a product.

Fortunately, two years after "Love and Producer" was launched, this market finally had the opportunity to prosper in the true sense.

23 products ready to go

The Teahouse has compiled 23 female-oriented games that will be launched or ready to be launched in 2020. The chart is as follows:

Of the 23 games, 19 are otome-oriented games. Of course, this is the result obtained under the premise of actively ignoring normal female-oriented games such as casual games and palace fighting games, but this number is still surprising.

Among the 23 games, we can see the presence of major companies such as Tencent, NetEase, miHoYo, and X.D. Network, but except for Tencent's "Light of Night Romance" which has a version number, the games of other major companies have not yet obtained a version number.

Among the 23 games, there are many stand-alone games. The production teams of these games usually do not have much R&D experience, and many of them are developing games for the first time.

Among the 23 games, 4 are from Bingshi Games, with themes including idol, criminal investigation, ancient fiction, and Republic of China fiction. These four games are all in the fourth category. Among them, the trial version of "Shan You Fu Su" is now online.

Among the 23 games, there is one BL game called "Ghost Face Game". There is no "BL" label in its introduction, and the name of the production team is very cool, "Lihua Ya Haitang Studio". It is indeed a BL game, and according to the official statement, it will be officially launched in May.

"Ghost Face Game" was ranked 7th on the pre-order list

Among the 23 games, NetEase, a listed game giant, has dabbled in a stand-alone otome AVG. The name of this game is "Amnesiac Idol Debut", and a trial version has been launched.

Among the 23 games, the fastest to be launched is Dream Floating Lantern by Beijing Dreamweaver Technology, which will be officially launched this Friday. Most of the other games are still in the testing stage. Tencent's Light and Night of Love is about to start its first test, NetEase's Time Traveler has finished its second test, and Mihoyo's Undetermined Event Book has also finished its second test not long ago.

If the licensing process goes smoothly, these three games are expected to be launched in 2020.

The above is a general situation of the 23 female-oriented games that will be launched or ready to be launched in 2020, and we can see more stories from this table.

The stories behind 23 games (Part 1)

There are many stories behind the 23 games, and you can see a lot from them.

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The first thing to talk about is the otome online game. After the stimulation of "Love and Producer", this category has finally shown a trend of explosion. NetEase and Mihoyo released their own otome online games last year, and Tencent also released "Light and Night Love" a while ago.

From left to right are the heroine of "Undetermined Case Files", the heroine of "Light and Night Love" and the heroine of "The Painted Traveler in Time and Space"

The common feature of this type of game is that it uses love fantasy as the main line of the game. The payment point design of the game is concentrated on cards, development, skins and other content, and is also closely related to numbers.

With the addition of a large number of payment points, the revenue capacity of otome online games is expected. There are not many games on the market that can be used as references, but the first month's revenue of "Love and Producer" was reported to have reached 200-300 million. Although the subsequent long-term operation has lagged behind, "Love and Producer" is indeed the first hit otome online game in the Chinese game market.

Although the themes of these three games from Tencent, NetEase and MiHoYo are different, the art, dubbing and technical capabilities of the three are undoubtedly top-notch in the market based on the currently disclosed content. Elements such as art and dubbing determine that the lower limit of the game will not be too low.

One of the music producers of "Light and Night Love", Lin Youshu

Judging from the current reviews, "The Painted Traveler in Time and Space" and "The Undecided Case Files", which have undergone two tests, have scores of 8.5 and 8.6 respectively, while "Hiru and Nocturne" which is about to be tested has a score of 9.5. The number of reservations on its official website has now exceeded 2 million.

Tencent's idea is very simple. Tencent has never set foot in the otome market before (not counting "Swordsman"). Even in the female market, Tencent's products are mainly casual. As Tencent's first official otome online game, "Light and Night Romance" will definitely become Tencent's big product this year if it can get good data in the test.

It is worth mentioning that "Dream Floating Lantern" was originally published on Tencent's interactive reading platform "One Hundred and One", while the mobile version is an independent App developed by Dream Weaver.

As for miHoYo, its corporate reputation has a considerable influence among the player circle. There has always been no shortage of discussion among players and media coverage of miHoYo's new games. In the future, miHoYo only needs to focus more on polishing the quality of the games.

NetEase was the first among the three companies to enter the otome market. In 2018, NetEase launched the popular "Meet Ni Shui Han" for both men and women. In the same year, NetEase also launched its own interactive reading platform Yiciyuan, which contains a large number of otome works.

Yiciyuan Spring Event

"Amnesiac Idol Debut" recorded in the table was the first derivative idol development work released on the Yiciyuan platform by Xingwan Studio based on NetEase's "A Chinese Ghost Story" IP, and later landed on the mobile platform.

NetEase's thinking can be seen from the products it released. "Meet Ni Shui Han" and "Amnesia Idol Debut" are both derivative works of NetEase game IP, but the nature of these two games is more stand-alone, with few payment points. "Meet Ni Shui Han" was free for more than half a year before getting the version number, and did not achieve explosive revenue growth after getting the version number and starting to pay. It is somewhat like exploring the way for NetEase's female-oriented products. "Traveler in Time and Space" carries a lot of NetEase's expectations in the female-oriented game market.

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The online otome game market is still a blue ocean. The success of Love and Producer provides the basic logic and mature payment framework for this market. The market needs more high-quality games, and players also need more high-quality games to liberate their consumption power. These three products of Tencent, NetEase and Mihoyo will lead the starring role in this year's online otome game movie – "Three Sisters and Stories Women Have to Tell".

The stories behind 23 games (Part 2)

The market for stand-alone otome games is much worse than that for online otome games.

We interviewed a number of studios that make stand-alone otome games. In their opinion, they feel that it is no different from making a "public welfare product" because it is so difficult to turn it into a commercial reality.

Most single-player otome games use AVG as the core gameplay, and many online otome games also call themselves AVG games, but this statement is debatable. AVG must use the player's plot choices to drive the main line of the game, which is something that online otome games cannot do. They require cultivation, cards, and even management and placement, which destroys the design logic of AVG itself.

Precisely because of this, the stand-alone otome game is basically somewhat similar to this market. What matters is the quality of the script and the depth of the AVG gameplay. It is a taboo for AVG to interrupt the user's plot experience with other gameplay.

A Yu, the publisher and producer of Gugu Games, told the teahouse that currently, AVG mobile games in the domestic market are doing well if they can barely break even, excluding the marketing costs of the games. Their AVG game "Mobius Ring" was officially launched on March 27, and in just over a week, the total sales have exceeded 50,000 sets. A Yu expects the final sales of the game to exceed 100,000, which is a very impressive number for the Chinese AVG market.

"But it is still too difficult to realize the profits. Everyone in the industry is also exploring business models. If the business model is not established, it will be difficult for this market to take off. This has nothing to do with otome, it is simply a historical problem left over from the AVG market." A Yu and his team also recently signed a single-player otome mobile game. In the AVG market where content is king, the luck of high-quality games will never be too bad.

Is there no hope for the commercialization of stand-alone otome games? Not necessarily. Bingshi Games has represented many stand-alone otome games, among which "Shan You Fusu" is currently testing and trying to monetize through advertising. In the game, players need to consume physical energy to act, and physical energy can be restored by watching ads.

Sorry, I put it in the wrong place

This is a common gameplay in many casual and hyper-casual games, which attracts players to stay through incentive-based advertising. However, "Shan You Fusu" has not yet been officially launched, so the effectiveness of this model in stand-alone otome games remains to be observed, but at least it provides a way of thinking for the market.

Many teams that make otome games are "newbies" in the gaming circle. The development team of "Ghost Mask Game" calls themselves a substandard production team struggling on the poverty line and have to consider realistic issues; the development team of "Cat's Contract" [Mai La Feng] previously made QQ emoticons, and "Cat's Contract" is also their debut game.

Commercialization is indeed a very realistic problem, and solving the contradiction between commercialization and AVG is ruthlessly placed in front of the developers of stand-alone otome games.

Therefore, before the problem of commercialization is solved, there is no possibility of the stand-alone otome game category to explode.


The female-oriented market will reach a turning point in 2020. The entry of large companies will lead to a large-scale explosion in the category of otome online games, which has been ignited once, "paying for love and recharging for him."

Whoever can liberate the potential consumption power of these female users will be able to dominate the future competition in the female-oriented market. Otome online games are expected to rise and become a major branch of the female-oriented market.

As for stand-alone otome games, AVG is a truly unpopular category in the market . There are not many people who continue to hold on to their position. More people are beginning to seek a combination of AVG and online game gameplay. The traditional AVG market cannot be equated with the current otome online game market that incorporates AVG gameplay into the female market.


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