Online entertainment platform Bilibili recently beat Chinese video game industry leaders Tencent Holdings and NetEase to obtain the domestic publishing rights for global hit battle royale game Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout – expanding the gaming ambition of the fast-growing service with a loyal fan base.
Shanghai-based Bilibili – whose platform offers a wide array of genres and media formats, including videos, live broadcasting and mobile games – is expected to publish a mobile version of the title in the world’s largest video games market, according to a company announcement on Monday.
Founded in 2009, Bilibili has become the biggest video-comics-and-gaming entertainment platform for China’s fast-growing Generation Z market segment, made up of consumers born between 1990 and 2009. Membership in the platform entails passing a 100-question test.
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“If Fall Guys has a successful China release, this would be Bilibili’s first breakout hit that is not an anime-style game,” said analyst Liao Xuhua of Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. “This would help broaden gamers’ understanding of Bilibili’s brand.”
Bilibili on Monday declined to comment on the expectations for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, but said more titles will be released, without providing details.
The stakes are high for Nasdaq-listed Bilibili to carve a wider niche in a domestic gaming market that has long been dominated by Tencent, operator of the world’s biggest video games business.
China – with more than 720 million gamers across mobile, desktop personal computer and console hardware, according to Niko Partners – recorded total sales of 139.4 billion yuan (US$19.9 billion) in the first six months of this year, up 22.3 per cent from a year ago, according to data from the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association.
While Bilibili has largely grown its popularity by appealing to younger users, especially anime fans, it has also seen campaigns that have backfired. For China’s Youth Day on May 4, Bilibili released a motivational video featuring an actor talking about all the opportunities and rights young people have in China now.
Many viewers, however, were quick to point out on Weibo the irony of the video’s message. Some vented their frustration about the culture of self-censorship, while others asked about cutting housing prices and raising salaries.
Bilibili, which averaged 172.4 million monthly active users on its platform in the first quarter, announced in July that it will launch a total of 11 new titles in the next several months, spanning genres that include 3D and side-scrolling action role-playing games (RPG), simulation and top-down shooters.
The company’s move towards non-anime fare could provide a further boost to its mobile games business. Its revenue from mobile games reached 1.1 billion yuan in the first quarter, up 32 per cent from the same period last year.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, developed by British firm Mediatronic, enables up to 60 players – as jelly bean-like figures – to compete on a three-dimensional playing field with battle royale-style gameplay.
Texas-based publisher Devolver Digital announced on August 10 that it had sold two million copies of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout on video game digital distribution service Steam.
Tech giants Alibaba and Tencent vie for attention of young Chinese on streaming video platform Bilibili
While it remains unknown when Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout and other games of Bilibili will get licensed by the government and published, a handful of new titles are expected to be released within this year. At least five new titles, including martial arts game Gujian: the Wood Whisperer, will be launched by Bilibili, according to Yang Xiaofeng, an analyst at Sinolink Securities.
Despite the market hype on Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, Bilibili may need a bigger game to attract more of its target audience.
“Fall Guys is a casual game,” said Zheng Jintiao, co-founder of online media outlet GamerBoom. “Its potential revenue in China may not be ideal because the game could be hard to monetise.”
Zheng indicated that the company needed the next Fate/Grand Order, a hit Japanese-developed tactical RPG published by Bilibili in China. “It still hasn’t found one,” he said.
More from South China Morning Post:
- YouTube stars are flocking to Chinese counterpart Bilibili, once known for its anime
- Bilibili flags popular vlogger’s content as suspect amid rise in disinformation, scams on Chinese video sites
This article Bilibili ratchets up China gaming drive with publishing rights for Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout first appeared on South China Morning Post