In China, it's the glitzy cities that get the attention — Shanghai in particular is the city that garners the most attention in scholarship (and frequently in the press). I was somewhat relieved to see that this is not confined merely to China specialists, but game industry watcher types as well — the most recent 'China Angle' column at Gamasutra looks at games outside of the publicized hotspots, where large portions of the user bases are found. Giant Interactive, developer of Zhengtu Online, recently purchased a stake in one of China's largest social networking sites, in an attempt to grow their market. But that's not the only way companies are trying to acquire ever greater number of players, oh no:
Giant Interactive made a significant splash in China's online gaming industry by pushing their game Zhengtu Online into the channel of second and third tier cities the way fast moving consumer goods company pushed food and nutritional products, using sales representatives at net cafes and shopping centers.
Their strategy was not surprising since Giant Interactive started as a nutritional supplement company prior to be a gaming powerhouse.
With the investment in 51.com, Giant will now continue to grow both their games and their reach deeper into hundreds and thousands of China's urban centers that most Americans have never heard of.
Oh, Giant — definitely one of my favorite companies to keep tabs on. I'm looking forward to seeing the directions the Chinese market takes over the next decade; maybe we'll even see WoW toppled.