Gaming Observations from Shanghai (China)

September 28th, 2008

shanghai internet

I’ve spent the past weeks in Shanghai and after a lot of commotion I have finally settled down and am ripping into my studies. Of course, as I promised, I have been keeping my eye out on the state of gaming in China, while I will undoubtedly be going more in depth on these issues on the future – you know I gotta makes some more friends first – for now here is everything that I have noticed in dot point form.

Firstly, it must be said that with or without piracy, games are big in China, much as they are around the world.

A driving force behind that are Internet Cafes (Wang Ba) which provide facilities for the most popular games in China this includes games that can be played locally, as well as access to movies, instant messaging and a wealth of other services.

Many of the internet cafes are themed around gaming with furnishings inside very similar to the old Time Zone arcades.

The most popular games in the internet cafes seem to be World of Warcraft and Counter Strike with random card and party games also being popular (I think these are linked to QQ; China’s most used instant messaging service).

People spit on the floors of the internet cafes – spitting is normal in Chinese culture but this shocked me – and smoking is allowed and often taken up by the participants.

I noticed a shortcut to Bookworm Adventures on my computer.

Much like in other Asian countries, the arcades still maintain a significant following in China, both new and older titles. I’ve been to one arcade in Xujiahui (Shanghai’s electronics centre) so far which had most of the typically popular games for arcade players. Also plenty of sponsers from Sega.

Most popular arcades game is – no surprise – King of Fighters ’98, this is the most tournament likened KOF game.

Department stores seem reluctant to sell video games or consoles full stop (I tried two upper class stores and a Best Buy).

Although I did notice on the Samsung TV displays – everything is divided by brand and seems individually licensed out – they had 1080p video of Street Fighter 4. Samsung TVs are popular for their colour so it was a suitable selection.

Electronic stores (as in crowded complexes filled head to toe with electronics) do sell games though. Maybe I am not looking in the right place but they don’t seem to popular in contrast to laptops and whatnot. I think that I need to find the pirated goods store.

Most games on sale are probably legit (well at least where I was; a lot of *seemingly* brand sponsored stalls).

All games are NTSC, being either Japanese or Hong Kong imported, proving that nobody wishes to sell games directly to China.

Nintendo do though and their products are co-branded with ‘iQue’ so that is ‘iQue Nintendo DS Lite’ etc.

I have also spotted several DS card readers with the mini SD cards, too bad for the iQue.

Overall though the PSP seems to be the most popular console (handheld or otherwise), although I didn’t check, the consoles on sale are again probably Hong Kong or Japanese. They’d have to be as they had so many colors available.

The PSP is also beating the DS in the subway wars.

Oh yeah, the Wiis would have been from Japan as they had Tales of Synphonia 2 being demoed and I confirmed with the shop keeper that it was Japanese.

Also the reason why the PSP is so popular is because they are the easiest to crack and get games for.

Lastly, when I was in best buy they had a rom or hack of Super Mario All Stars going on one of the laptops (looked like a hack) with a PS2 styled controller hooked up.