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September 20, 2012

Hero Academy goes viral in China; a beacon of localization success.

Hero Academy fans may remember that back in late June this year Robot Entertainment announced that it was partnering with YoDo1, a Chinese video game studio, in order to bring Hero Academy to the mass Chinese market. Hero Academy has been available in China for a number of weeks now and the launch has been a great success. So much so that the YoDo1 localized version of Hero Academy made the Top 10 list in free games, and Top 25 iPhone apps overall in just 48 hours after going live on the App Store.

Localizing the game & servers

The results are very impressive and it is great news that Hero Academy is reaching a global audience. Robot Entertainment partnering with YoDo1 have really shown the industry the kind of results that can be achieved by localizing games for the Chinese market. Recently Henry Fong, CEO and founder of YoDo1 took part in an interview with Gamasutra to give us an insight to how we arrived at this point. There were a number of considerations and challenges that Robot Entertainment and YoDo 1 had to address to achieve this success. One of the key decisions was to provision the servers in China and have a separate Chinese version of the game rather than connecting players to the same USA based servers. This was an important consideration not only for technical reasons (connectivity from China to USA servers was slow) but also it was important to give Chinese players and experience they were familiar with. As Henry Fong tells Gamasutra:

As a multi-player turn-based game, Hero Academy needed a local server presence in Asia. Otherwise, it would take forever for Chinese players to find opponents, and cause long delays in between moves. On top of that, the Western version of Hero Academy has a lot of connectivity to Twitter and Facebook, so players can share content with their friends, and find fellow players on those social networks. Trouble is, neither Twitter nor Facebook are even accessible in China.

Robot and YoDo1 set about replacing the existing US based social network links (Facebook & Twitter) and replaced them with Chinese social network Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo. After all its no good having functionality to invite friends by Twitter if all the Chinese players are using Weibo. This move was certainly important to allow players to connect with friends in China.

A brand new exclusive team

In order to help entice the Chinese players a brand new team was created based on the Chinese equivalent of Middle Earth “Jiang Hu”. Think “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon“. As Henry describes:

Hero Academy is full of elves, orcs, and other character types that Western gamers are totally familiar with, from Lord of the Rings and other classics. So what if we introduced a China themed heroic team to the game? We thought that this would certainly be a bigger draw to the Chinese gamer audience.

New marketing materials

The concerns that Chinese players wouldn’t be familiar with the Western style characters also centred around the need to create new marketing materials such as a new video trailer to promote the Chinese launch of the game. YoDo1 went about creating a brand new trailer unique to the Chinese market and the results are pretty impressive – check out the trailer below!

Its fantastic to see that the Chinese version of Hero Academy has had such great success. YoDo1 are continuing to work with Robot to add new content to the game. The Chinese launch of Hero Academy is clearly a beacon of success that says Western games with the right level of localization can make it big in China. Hero Academy is now at the forefront of this kind of game localization. Congratulations Robot and Yodo1!

Further reading

Check out the full article with Henry Fong and Gamasutra here:


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