Outsourcing to America

Joe Blancato | 25 Oct 2005 08:01
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And, remarkably, they're taking a stab at gaming.

They're investing" title="China Invests in Online Games" target="_blank">$1.8 billion dollarsin online games over the next five years alone. Consider the fact their population is quickly moving into the digital foray; that only means more customers for everybody. Combine that with their recently passed laws to curb online gaming "addiction." What do you see? A change in development paradigm; all of a sudden the gaming market is flooded with people forced into casual gaming, and the Chinese government is buying for $1.8 billion worth of games to fit that standard. If American companies can even hope to capture the hearts and minds of the Chinese populace, it means they're going to need to show up at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., with some very revolutionary ideas on how to make a good online game. And it has to be more than a money grab if they want to remain in the land of a thousand dynasties for any discernable length of time.

But the Chinese aren't going to pay for games developed externally. Why would they? Part of a country's investment in homegrown production is the return will potentially increase their GDP. This doesn't mean foreign countries will necessarily be left in the cold, it just means foreign countries will have to open a new base of operations run by Chinese-born and naturalized Chinese citizens. They're using our globalization dream against us. They're using their money to lure more investment capital to their shores.

Western companies are already dipping their toes in the market, and China's virtual version of the Homestead Act is merely heating the pool to a comfortable temperature. The government has proved masterful: Not only do they offer a potentially larger gaming population than the States (they currently boast 1.5 million WoW subscribers, roughly half a million more than North America), they now offer cold, hard cash for setting up shop and catering to their residents.

It's not hard to foresee the future. China will more than likely continue to lean toward freeing up their market, but also isn't afraid of throwing money into developing markets previously cornered by America. Big firms, lured by grants and a truly massive customer base, will quickly start targeting Chinese customers, developing games with their mindset, and local laws, in mind. Imagine a game based on Hero, complete with the propaganda. Or enjoy a trip to the moon with Chinese astronauts. How about an MMOG with characters that only live three hours?

And when Chinese gamers are the forefront of development choices and marketing, Chinese gamers will pursue gaming-related degrees, both domestically and abroad. And then they'll go home, use national funds to start their own companies, and design great games we in America can only dream about until they get around to localizing them to our tongue. But all isn't lost. Sure, games will be produced in the Orient. But luckily, no one likes coding wind blowing through the trees.

Someone's still gotta do that, right?

Joe Blancato is a Contributing Editor for The Escapist Magazine, in addition to being the Founder of

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