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Running a Business as an Artificer
This guide could also be quite beneficial to Forge Clerics or any Wizard, Bard or Caster that knows Fabricate.
1) Chapter 6 of the DMG features the Downtime Activity of Running a Business. It breaks down to 1d100+X, X being a number of downtime days that you spend running your business. If you can get above a 60 on the roll, congrats, your business makes a profit for that month.
2) Eberron: Rising from the Last War. You'll need this book if you want to play an Artificer.
3) Exploring Eberron presents two new Artificer Subclasses as well as a few new infusions I reference here, namely Healing Salve and Quiver of Energy.
4) Acquisition Incorporated is a great source for new rules to allow a business to be run while you continue to adventure, allowing a constant background stream of income to help fund future adventuring opportunities. You can use as many or as few options as you'd like, but the Hireling options to run the business in your absence are a nice touch.
5) If you don't want to use traditional Hirelings, but a more customizable NPC, you could use the Sidekick Options from the Essentials Kit and the upcoming Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. I will be recommending Sidekicks for each of the business models in the examples below.
6) Waterdeep: Dragon Heist gives basic operating costs for running a tavern and One-time and Recurring fees for Guild Memberships. Given the prominence of Guilds in Eberron and other settings, it is a good standard to use for other settings.
7) Xanathar's Guide to Everything has a fantastic breakdown of Artisan Tool uses and Skill Checks that will be immensely useful to Artificers or businessmen looking to practice a trade.
1) You will be running this business on your own.
2) You have options to get hirelings or other PC help should you want/need it.
3) You are level 6. This is the first level where a lot of this becomes feasible because you gain your Tool Expertise class feature and are now the best on the block at using Artisan Tools. You also gain a nice expansion to your Infusions that you can learn and I would think that knowing the Enhanced Weapon Infusion would count as having a schematic allowing you to enchant a basic +1 weapon.
4) We can use the upcoming Tasha's Rules for Character Creation on the Sidekicks so that you can swap out one Skill Proficiency for a Tool Proficiency. Wouldn't make sense to hire someone to run a weapon smithing shop who couldn't use Blacksmith Tools.
Feel free to submit your own business models using the following format:
- Business Focus
- Artificer Subclass or Subclasses best suited.
- Tool Proficiencies needed.
- Helpful Infusions. I include these here because I believe that having a relevant infusion should count as the required schematics necessary to create a magic item. I also think that they should definitely look different than the standard fare that traditional enchanters sell.
- Business location.
- Primary focus of business. What you will be selling or offering to customers.
- Common or Uncommon Magic Items to supplement mundane sales when you hit level 10 and can make them in 1/4 the normal time and 1/2 the price of anyone else.
- Sidekicks you could use in the business.
- Other Party members who could help you besides the Forge Cleric, Bards, Rogues or any Spellcaster that knows *Fabricate*. You can Assume that the above classes are inferred good business partners for any of the jobs listed below. This guide will be focusing on those with Tool Proficiencies from Class, as anyone could grab a Guild Member background and be helpful as well.
Wandsmith/Arcane Focus Maker
- Artillerist. This subclass lends itself well to a Wandslinger and the level 5 class features give a lot of attention to the Wand.
- Armor of Tools, Woodcarver's Tools, Jeweler's Kit, Glassblower's Kit. Woodcarving for Wands, Rods and Staves. Jeweler's for Wands, and Crystals. Glassblower's for Orbs.
- Enhanced Arcane Focus, Replicate Magic Items (any common wands or staves, Wand of Magic Detection, Wand of Secrets), Homunculus Servant, Replicate Magic Item (Wand Sheath). The Enhanced Arcane Focus should lend you to easily make decent wands and even Infused Wands. Replicating Magic Items for schematics for easy to make Common Magic items to upsell to customers. Homunculus Servant for extra help around the shop.
- Cart, Wagon, Boat, Shop. You could have 2-3 wands on hand in a cart, a covered wagon with carving tools set up or even a section of a ship dedicated to making and selling your wares. If applicable, you could even buy a permanent location to sell your wares, this will be your best bet for glassblowing, as your toolkit still requires you to find a suitable heat source to form liquid glass. Work your way up to being your own Gilmore's Glorious Goods, Invulnerable Vagrant, or Fantasy Costco.
- At this location, Wands, Rods, Staves, Crystals and Orbs will be your meat and potatoes. Basic Spellcasting Foci for any aspiring Wizard, Sorcerer or Warlock. You could even branch out into Holy Symbols, and Druidic Foci if the demand is there. While a basic Spellcasting Focus only needs to be between 5gp and 20gp. These are easily made in a single day of downtime crafting. You could even customize more expensive version of them for Nobles or highly opinionated casters to distinguish yourself from other magic shops.
- Common and Uncommon Wands and Staves. Mostly Imbued Wands or Orbs of Resistance. Wands of Magic Missile, Burning Hands, Ice Knife, Catapult would all fall under these categories. Could even make a Common Wand that requires attunement, and grants the attuned the ability to cast a single Cantrip (always at Level 1) as a Novice Wandslinging item. Scrolls could be re-flavored as single use wands.
- For Sidekicks, an Expert would be great to help you churn out mundane items, while a Spellcaster would help you keep a steady stream of lower end Magic Items available.
- Eldritch Knights and Tome Warlocks would make great business partners. Eldritch Knights would probably push you to sell Rubies of War Mages also, bringing in a new area of clientele and the ability to advertise through Weaponsmiths for when they have some adventurers come through.
- Any Artificer
- Armor of Tools, Painter's Kits, Calligrapher's Kit, Glassblowers Kit, Woodcarver's Kit, Mason's Tools. These cover the gambit of common medium to work with.
- Homunculus Servant. Most other Infusions are combat based, but a Homunculus is a nice extra set of hands(tentacles or claws?) to help pass you the right tool and to clean off your brushes.
- Can work from Cart, Wagon, Boat or Shop. You might want a combo of Wagon and Shop, with a mobile studio to get different landscapes and to collect different material and a shop for a gallery from which to sell things.
- Paintings, Sculptures, Wood Carvings, Reliefs and finer doo-dads will be your main stock. From carvings of monsters that you've fought, self-portraits of people you've met, landscapes of other planes, or just finely made custom Dragonchess sets with pieces that look like real people. You could even specialize in ship figureheads or shop signs for taverns or other businesses. If you can find a way to make a permanent Magical Tinkering effect of the static visual image, that's a nice storefront display right there.
- Illusion enchanted paintings for a Harry Potter style feel would be good magical items, or even Dragonchess sets that can move themselves.
- Experts will probably get more mileage for the tool proficiencies than the Spellcaster unless your Enchanted portraits become a real hot commodity.
- Kensei Monks and Battlemaster Fighters each get proficiency in a set of Artisan's Tools as a Class Feature. Monks get Calligrapher's kit, but Battlemasters get to pick their choice, so could easily be Painter's or Woodcarver's.
- Battlesmith, Artillerist
- Armor of Tools, Woodcarver's Tools, Tinker's Tools, Smithing Tools, Carpenter's Tools. You will be mostly working with Wood and steel. Woodcarver's Tools lets you make 20 arrows as part of a Long Rest per Xanathar's.
- Repeating Shot, Quiver of Energy, Enhanced Weapon, Homunculus Servant. Enhanced Weapon for a reason to be able to make +1 crossbows. Quiver of Energy might be useful for some arrows that add a bit of elemental damage to a shot, even if only +1 fire or lightning.
- You can run a smaller shop out of a cart or wagon and be mostly custom orders, or you can have a fixed shot with dozens of different styles ready for sale and enchantment services on request.
- Hand, Light and Heavy crossbows as well as arrows and bolts will be your primary trade. You can also Silver arrows and bolts and filigree the crap out of some crossbows if people are interested in flaunting their status that way. Pretty straight forward with these mundane items.
- Walloping Ammunition, Unbreakable Arrows, Elemental Burst Arrows and Quivers of Ehlonna will be easy sources of magical flare in your shop.
- Experts will be your main shopkeepers and re-stockers. Warriors if you want someone to do demonstrations.
- Rangers, Arcane Archer Fighters, Kensei Monks will make excellent business partners. The Ranger especially brings a host of appropriate spells for later game enchanting. The Kensei will probably focus on more "traditional" Bows, which can help expand your clientele.
- Brewer's Kit, Alchemist Supplies, Herbalism Kit, Poisoner's Kit. It is called out in Xanathar's Guide that an Herbalism Kit is required to make Healing Potions. So that's something you're definitely invest in. Also, in Xanathar's for .5lbs and 25gp of material, you can make one Alchemist Fire as part of a Long Rest with an Alchemist Supply Kit. That's not even counting what you can make during the day as Downtime. Stock up before you leave the city and you can make yourself one firebomb a night!
- Healing Salve and Homunculus Servant. Healing Salve is basically a 4 use touch range Healing Word you can make. This would be a great basis for Keoghtom's Ointment. I also feel like at this point I don't need to explain why Homunculus Servant keeps appearing on these lists.
- You could run this out of a cart or wagon, but i'd be worried about all those Alchemist Fire supplies rattling around. Same with a boat, unless you're just a Riverboat. A physical Shop would be best for what you need, although a cart/wagon for traveling with already made merchandise is a nice way to spread the brand name and to gather exotic or non-local supplies.
- Healing Potions! You are the local healer. You will also probably have on hand a good number of natural remedies for people who can't afford a constant stream of Healing Potions and instead use the Medicine Skill Proficiency to treat wounds. You can also make a single item of either Alchemist Fire, Acid, Antitoxin, perfume or soap as part of a Long Rest with an Alchemist's kit, so you can have a varied catalogue. makes sense to me that Sunrods (fantasy glow sticks) would be something you'd make with Alchemist's Supplies. You could even dip into Poison's, that wouldn't be advertised of course, but would include a bit of a premium on their sale for those in the need of such a thing.
- As you level up you can more easily make Potions of: Greater Healing, Fire Breath, Hill Giant Strength, Resistance and Water Breathing. You can also easily make an Alchemy Jug, which can make you day to day operations even cheaper as you can simply have the jug produce some of the more mundane liquids you may sell. The Decanter of Endless Water is also a must have item and too easy of a sale to anyone adventuring near or into a desert. Keoghtom's Ointment is also a nice Emergency Medicine that you could sell to a local Hospital or Militia.
- Expert's are your best bet at brewing basic potions for you and keeping the mundane supplies stocked. A Spellcaster would be able to expand your inventory with Climbing Potions, Beads of Nourishment, Beads of Refreshment, Candle's of the Deep, Perfume of Bewitching and Tankard's of Sobriety.
- Druids, Eldritch Knights, Monks and Rangers would be good partners as they can easily get Nature and Medicine proficiencies for a good number of the items that you make.
- Any Artificer, but strong lean to Alchemist due to class flavor.
- Brewer's Kit, Carpenter's Kit, Cook's Utensils, Alchemist Supplies, Herbalism Kit, Glassblowing Kit. The Brewer's Supplies should be obvious, but outside of the business, you can Purify1 gallon of Water over a Short Rest and 6 Gallons over a Long rest, a handy skill to have if you aren't near someplace with Fresh Water, like the open ocean. The Cook's Utensils are also a given with a Tavern, but outside of combat they allow a creature to regain 1 extra HP per Hit Dice they spend on a Short Rest. That may not sound like much, but it effectively makes each Hit Dice one higher on average (1d6+1 has the same average as 1d8). The Carpenter's Tools are so that you can fix all the furniture that will break during the inevitable bar fights. The Alchemist Supplies are actually for embalming creatures you encounter so you can have that Mindflayer Taxidermized as a display item in your bar! That's a feature I don't think any other local bar will have. Herbalism Kit is for working with hops, or branching into a bit of Potion Making if you want. Glassblowing is for you to make your own signature glassware that you can serve with the expensive drinks and offer as souvenirs.
- Homunculous Servant, Replicate Magic Item (Tankard of Sobriety). Tankard's of Sobriety seem like the perfect item for a bartender or bar owner. You can drink as much as you want but still stay sober. Might not be as much fun as regular drinking, but good for keeping your head about you and one hell of an advantage in a drinking contest.
- You could run this out of a Cart or Wagon as a kind of portable bar for just drinks. If you got a decent sized ship you could even expand it to a casino boat. However, a physical shop is the best choice here, specially if you plan to expand it to housing several rooms. Location is also key here, so make sure you spend some downtime doing some Investigation, Insight and History checks to learn all you can about potential locations you might set up.
- Beers, Wines, and Spirits of all kinds, with tasty food to boot! This is the stereotypical D&D Player business. There's an entire chapter of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist dedicated to setting up and running a tavern if you want inspiration. Feel free to include specials following your adventures of meat from creatures you've slain! Hydra-Burgers should be tasty.
- Mostly Wands of Prestidigitation and Decanter's of Endless Water for cleaning the bar and Alchemy Jugs for an easier way to produce cheap beer and wine with basically no overhead costs. Dust of Dryness might be nice to have on hand for cleaning up spills as well. Oh, and don't forget to keep a Wand of Magic Missiles behind the bar for those rowdy patrons.
- Spellcasters might make the best brewmasters of the sidekicks due to their increased Mental Stats. They can also help out with cleaning, and if they get to a point where they can Detect Poison and Disease, that would be a huge help come Health Inspection time. Experts will make good Brewers and can step up behind the bar to help out with their wide range of proficiencies. Warriors are good Bouncers and a way to take care of those pesky Dire Rats in the cellar.
- Way of the Drunken Fist Monks will either be a godsend or a curse for you as a business partner. Other Monks and Rangers would make a good partner as their naturally high Wisdom scores would help with Insight and Perception to keep an eye on patrons and employees. And no one is better in a bare knuckle brawl than a Monk, you could even put a fighting pit in your tavern if you want that kind of atmosphere, but I'd be sure to have a place to check weapons at the door so fights don't escalate too much outside of the fighting pit. Barbarians and Fighters have the CON to put down the drinks for Taste Testing and still being able to be a Bouncer. Beastmaster's can use their companion as a novelty server or even tavern mascot. And while I said I wouldn't include them on the list, I just have to say that any Bard would go here wonderfully.
- Battlesmith (It's in the name)
- Smithing Kit, Alchemist Supplies, Leather Working, Jeweler's Kit, Woodcarving Kit. The Smithing Kit and Woodcarving kit should be obvious as 95% of the weapons are made from metal or wood. The Leather Working Kit is for grips and wraps on the handles of weapons. Jeweler's Kit is for making fancy versions of weapons. Alchemist Supplies is for Silvering Weapons or using chemicals to stain the metal other colors.
- Homunculus Servant, Armor of Tools, Enhanced Weapon, Returning Weapon, Radiant Weapon, Replicate Magic Item (Moon-Touched Sword), Replicate Magic Item (Armblade). I think both the Radiant Weapon and Moon-Touched Sword Infusions would be good enough to count for the schematics to make Moon-Touched Swords for you. Enhanced Weapon for a basic +1 weapon.
- You need a forge for these, and that means that Carts and Wagons are only good for transporting completed merchandise to sell. The sheer weight needed for your forge makes a boat out of the question. Like the tavern, a physical location is the best bet for you.
- Anything that isn't a strictly ranged weapon is your stock and trade here. The most expensive mundane melee weapon is the Greatsword at 50gp. That means it will take you a full day (25gp) to make a single one. All other weapons can be made in a few hours. You'll also want to have some farming supplies and tools on hand in order to maximize your customer base. Hoes, pick axes, crowbars, buckets, barrels, Caltrops, Ball Bearings, metal religious symbols etc. Silvering Weapons and adding gold/silveelectrum/gemstone decorations to mundane items are a great way to offer wares to richer customers. Yes, Lord Grantham ir'Lupiloo has a fine rapier, but he doesn't have a rapier made of Bulette-scale Damascus steel, with a hydra skin wrapped pommel and his name engraved in gold embossed Draconic along the crossguard. That's how you make a name for yourself, because Lord Brendit ir'Flaglap is going to HAVE to have a nicer Longsword than that cur for next week's gala.
- Moon-Touched Blades, Weapons of Warning, +1 Weapons and a weapon with a single minor property from the table on page 143 in the DMG will be the easiest and fastest for you to replicate.
- The Expert and Warrior will be best for if you want mundane items being churned out of your forge. The Spellcaster would be a better hire if you want to focus on enchanted items. The difference in what you will be able to do will be based on your location. Rural areas will focus on mundane most likely, while cities will have more demand and client base for fancy mundane and enchanted.
- Fighters, Barbarians, Monks, Paladins and Blade Pact Warlocks would do great here as partners.
- Armorer, Battlesmith
- Smithing Kit, Leatherworking, Weaver's Tools, Cobbler's Tools, Alchemist Supplies. SMithing and Leatherworking are straightforward. Weavers is for non-armor clothing if you want to instead open up a clothing boutique. Cobbler's tools for if you want to make shoes. Fun fact, with Cobbler's Tools you can spend a Long Rest to add in a 3" by 1" hidden compartment into a pair of shoes or boots.
- Homunculus Servant, Enhanced Armor, Reflecting Shield, Boots of the Winding Path, Armor of Absorption, Armor of Tools.
- You could do a clothing store, shoe repair and custom designing, make and sell leather armor, custom tailoring or a dry-cleaning business (Prestidigitation + Mending) out of a cart, wagon or boat, but for the same reasons as with a weaponsmith you need a physical location if you want to make metal armor. Make it work, people!
- Congratulations, you are now you party Rogue's favorite person and source of disguises. You'll have to decide the breadth and scope of just what kind of business you want to run first. Focus on just mundane clothing for commoners to nobles, or do a combination of common clothing and simple armors. Metal armors and shields will require a forge. If you are able to build yourself up, you could eventually do everything out of a large building with a little bit of everything like your own fantasy Macy's. One storefront for expensive dresses, gowns and suits. Next door is more common or work wear, and out back is the forge with protective armors, leathers and shields. This would be a nice way to ensure that all your armor pieces match, because nothing is worse than finding a great piece of new armor that just completely clashes with your personal aesthetic. This also to me just seems like a great way to play a Garrak like character. (If you don't know who that is, please see yourself over to Netflix or CBS All Access and watch all of Deep Space 9 as soon as possible.)
- Cloaks of Defense, Cloaks of Many Fashions, Cloaks of Billowing, Cloaks of Elvenkind, Cloaks of the Manta Ray, Sentinel Shields, Robes of Useful Items, Brooches of Shielding, Cast off Armor, Boots of Elvenkind, Gleaming Armor, Boots of the Winterlands, Winged Boots....there are so many thematic Common and Uncommon Magic Items for you to make here.
- Experts will be your go to for mundane sewing, forging and cobbling. Spellcasters if your enchanting business takes off and can run the Dry-cleaning aspect while you're gone.
- Rangers, Monks and Arcane Archers will do well here are they tend to favor DEX and WIS. Also, if you do end up going into a clothing business with a rogue and you don't name it "Cloak and Dagger" then I think you actually lose a Character Level.
- Any, but Battlesmiths and Armorers might do best as they would tend to have higher STR.
- Armor of Tools, Carpenter's Tools, Woodworking Tools, Smithing Tools, Navigation Tools. You're mostly going to be working with wood here, and a bit of metal also. Navigation Tools just seems like a good choice, unless you want the RP of being a master of building ships, and then being completely unable to use or navigate in them.
- Homunculus Servant, Replicate Magic Items (Cap of Water Breathing, Ring of Water Walking, Cloak of the Manta Ray). The Magic Items that you can replicate allow you to fully inspect or repair any ship while it is in the water.
- You're going to want a shop. Located next to a large body of water. And depending on the size of the ships you intend to build, it should also be connected to an ocean eventually. You could theoretically have this business from a boat, if you make a large enough ship that you could pull alongside other ships to repair them, but I think you're best off with a permanent location.
- As a Shipwright, you make ships! Boats, galleys, rowboats and everything in between. You'll want to start off with smaller boats first to build up your money until you can invest in making a large ship. According to the DMG, a Rowboat costs 50gp to make, a Keelboat costs 3,000gp a Sailing Ship or Longship costs 10,000gp and a Galley costs 30,000gp. Other than Rowboats, which you can make in a single day, these are going to be very long projects. From 120 days for a Keelboat to about 3.3 years for a Galley if you are working by yourself without any magical aid. Even if you do hire multiple sidekicks or just general hirelings, you aren't going to get paid until the entire job is done, but they will all need to be paid while they work on the ship. Instead of making brand new ships, you could also repair existing ones, and as an Artificer, you almost certainly have the Mending cantrip which can help you.
- Candle's of the Deep, Heward's Handy Spice Pouch, Orbs of Direction, Ropes of Mending, Alchemy Jugs, Caps of Water Breathing, Decanters of Endless (fresh)water, Eyes of the Eagle, Gloves of Swimming and Climbing and Wind Fans are all magic items that you could sell to shipowners and crews to help them in their travels. Ghosts of Saltmarsh also has a number of Ship Upgrades that you could offer.
- Experts are going to help you the most here as they can get the most amount of kit proficiencies to help across a variety of problems. Spellcasters can help if you decide for focus more on maritime magical goods.
- If you plan on building ships from scratch, then you are going to need every Forge Cleric and Fabricate Spell you can get your hands on. But be careful, if you are able to start churning out ships in a week for half the cost of the competition, then that is a LOT of people that you are putting out of business and there is sure to be repercussions. For a non-magical approach, just about every party has something that they can contribute to this project. Martial classes will DO WORK on cutting down lumber and getting that ship together. Partial Casters can help speed up certain aspects of building and augment others through buffs.
Please Feel Free to Submit your own Business Ideas! I'll add them if they fit the stated format. Punny Shop names encouraged!
How to promote mobile games in Japan, Korea and China — and not to screw up
Asia is a real plum for app developers. Western markets have long since become oversaturated and growth has slowed, but the Asian market continues a trend of dynamic growth. The question is how to get on board.submitted by ritis88 to gamedev
In this article we’ll be talking about trends and methods of promoting mobile games and apps in Korea, Japan, China, and other Asian countries.
Here at Nitro, a professional text translation service, we turned to our friends at WeQ — a German company that specializes in app promotion and attracting quality audiences worldwide, which has direct partnerships with Huawei, Yahoo! Japan, and Tiktok. In preparing this article we were assisted by Ara Jo and Yu Ting Witzko, both of whom are not only well acquainted with the Asian market but were actually born and raised in Asia — Ara in Korea, Yu Ting in Taiwan.
What types of games are the most popular?Games are tremendously popular in Asia: in 2019 the populace of the Asia-Pacific region spent over $70 billion on games, which currently accounts for half the global games market. Most of this revenue came from China, Japan, and Korea.
Here are the most popular mobile game genres by country:
RPG is a popular genre in many Asian countries. Hyper-casual games are another high-interest category.
Chinese players are often fond of eSports games, and Shanghai and Hong Kong regularly host offline eSports matches. This is linked to China’s strong tradition of team play: the Chinese enjoy doing things as a group.
Dominant storesIn Western countries things are very simple: you have Google Play and the App Store, period. Asia, however, is a little different. For example, China has the App Store, but Google and all its services are prohibited. In place of Google Play (and accounting for 70% of the mobile market) there are around 400 local Android stores. Interestingly, each of these stores has its own focus, with some publishing games exclusively. Working with these stores is easiest through local publishers. More on that later.
In Japan the App Store dominates, while Google Play reigns supreme in Korea, but both countries also have alternative stores. For example, one of the biggest Android stores is Korea’s OneStore. Taiwan and Hong Kong have both the App Store and Google Play.
One way to stand out among other apps is through featuring. WeQ partners with Huawei and can arrange for featuring in Huawei’s store — the App Gallery — in the following categories: New Apps we Love, New Games we Love, and Top-Rated Apps.
User purchasing powerJapan is the most attractive country in terms of profits, with over 70 million smartphone owners, users who are ready and willing to pay (nearly half of all players spend money on mobile games), and a high ARPU (average revenue per user) — $200. Compare this to the ARPU in the USA ($72), China ($40), and South Korea — $108 (source Statista).
Interestingly, in Japan women spend money on games more readily than men, and so many companies create games and marketing campaigns that specifically target female consumers.
As with every country, players in Asia prefer the freemium model. However, users are willing to pay for quality apps and the ability to customize.
Speaking of purchasing power, it should be noted that many users in Asia are not accustomed to paying by credit card. In China people use WeChat Pay and Alipay for in-app purchases; in Vietnam the electronic wallets MoMo, ZaloPay, and VTCPay are preferred; and in Korea Kakao Pay was recently added as a payment option in the App Store.
*The messaging app Line is also popular in Indonesia and Thailand.
As you see, China has no Western platforms whatsoever: they are all blocked. But such is not the case in Taiwan and Hong Kong, as these are considered separate countries. The political relationship between mainland China and Taiwan and Hong Kong remains tense, and so China’s vastly popular WeChat app is not as widespread in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The main messengers in Asia are in fact super-apps in which users can not only communicate, but also post photos, play games, order food, send money, hail a taxi, submit credit applications, etc. It’s no wonder that users readily spend considerable time using them.
Most importantly, nearly the entire population of Japan, China, and Korea is concentrated in these super-apps, making them ideal platforms for promoting your apps. Their reach is out of this world: KakaoTalk is used by 93% of Koreans, Line by 91% of Taiwanese and 65% of Japanese, and WeChat by 78% of Chinese.
The broad functionality of local messengers makes them comparable to social networks. Although Western social networks do see use in the majority of Asian countries, local social networks are preferred. For example, Koreans use Facebook, but KakaoTalk and Line are far more popular. One exception is the ubiquitous YouTube, as well as Twitter, which is much loved in Japan.
Important! In Asia people are used to using their favorite social network to sign into apps. Korean users, for instance, will expect you to offer four options: Google, Naver, Kakao, and Facebook; while the Chinese will be looking for sign-in via WeChat or telephone number.
How to promote your app on super-apps?You can advertise through influencers or create a corporate account and offer your followers coupons, in-app gifts, or fun stickers. Asian users like these so much that a cool sticker collection is a genuine motivation to follow you.
Typical stickers in the messenger Line
You can send out a mailing to your social networking followers. Whereas in the West companies usually collect email addresses and send out mass emails, in Asia it is easier to reach your users via messengers. You can also automate interaction with your subscribers using special tools such as China’s WeChatify. Also popular are various contests in conjunction with local holidays, the end of the school year, etc. Users receive perks in your app or service for participating, and your company gets free viral advertising. These kinds of events are important for user retention and monetization.
Each social network has its own nuances: before advertising on a network you need to determine whether its target audience is a good fit for you. For example, the Japanese view Facebook as a “working network” — the Japanese equivalent of LinkedIn. Instagram is popular among women under 30. The majority of Japanese Line users are people over 40, which is hardly surprising, the Japanese being an aging nation. And TikTok attracts school-age children and young people under 24, just like everywhere else in the world.
Search engines and blogging platformsMajor search engines offer advertising in the style of Google Ads. This kind of advertising is available from China’s Baidu, Korea’s Naver, and Japan’s Yahoo! Japan.
Then there are forums and blogging platforms: Naver Cafe and Naver Blog in Korea, Baidu Tieba (the Chinese Reddit), Zhihu (the Chinese Quora), Douban (the Chinese Medium), and Bilibili in China, and Gamewith and game8 in Japan. Incidentally, the Japanese love to pore over gaming websites in search of new arrivals, and they also typically pre-register for games.
You can select a well-known blogger and request them to review your game or app. You can also publish articles about your new game or app in gaming communities and on various forums. Using the online service Nitro you can translate your article into Korean, Japanese, or Chinese.
The least effective promotion channel is Instagram. For comparison, KakaoTalk is used by over 30 million Koreans, while Instagram has only around 3 million users. Even the Instagram accounts of mobile gaming giants like Netmarble enjoy little popularity.
Other kinds of advertisingIn Japan and Taiwan pre-registration for mobile games is quite popular. https://www.yoyaku-top10.jp is the largest Japanese website for pre-registration campaigns. An effective approach is to plan publication in gamedev communities and on gaming websites, then add a pre-registration link. If you have not planned for this, you can always launch a paid campaign to drive traffic to your pre-registration webpage.
Your app can be one of those that comes preinstalled on new Android devices, so that interested users can easily download it just by tapping on the icon. WeQ can assist with this kind of advertising. You can also send push notifications to these users, encouraging them to open the app.
Offline advertisingIn Asia, offline advertising of mobile games and apps is very widespread: ads can be seen every day in the subway, on buses, at bus stops, etc. Nor is offline marketing the exclusive domain of huge companies: this channel works for companies of all sizes, and it can be surprisingly affordable.
Why is offline advertising considered effective? Densely populated Asia is home to many metropolises, such as Taipei (Taiwan), Seoul, and Shenzhen. In Hong Kong alone the populace is almost 5 times more dense than in London! Naturally, advertisements in cities like these are seen by an enormous number of people.
In China promoters often frequent university campuses, handing out fliers with QR codes to download apps. Sometimes downloading the app from the flier earns the user in-app bonuses. The Chinese themselves tend to feel that when a developer invests in offline advertising, their app is likely to be of high quality.
Offline marketing is handled by a local advertising agency or publisher. WeQ recommends first evaluating the effect of online promotion before considering offline advertising.
We have yet to mention one vastly popular promotion channel: influencers. This channel deserves special attention.
Influencers: Asia’s most happening trendAlthough influencers enjoy popularity in the West, in Asia this trend extends not only to apparel and cosmetics, but also to the gaming industry.
The influencer industry is seeing particularly large-scale growth in Korea and Taiwan. Well-known gamers promote games on YouTube, Twitch, and AfreecaTV (a Korean platform similar to Twitch).
Banners frequently combine a real-life celebrity with animated characters. Here, for example, is a campaign targeting players from Hong Kong, where a local celebrity advertises a new game from Chinese developer NetEase.
Employing celebrities in advertising is so widely developed that sometimes offline events are even held, where role-playing games are enacted in which one of the main characters is played by the celebrity (of course, only AAA titles can afford advertisements on this scale).
Below is how a promo video hosted by a celebrity can look. Here we see a top Taiwanese model advertising a game from developer Gamamobi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZy9SRHQQsc
Naturally, the majority of developers cannot afford to hire celebrities to advertise their product. But there are numerous local micro-influencers who can create promotional content for you on platforms like China’s Bilibili (which specializes in anime and games), Korea’s Naver Cafe and Naver Blog, etc.
Hiring a local advertising agency is not a prerequisite for partnering with influencers. Considering the language barrier, however, it is easier to contact an agency or entrust WeQ with selecting an influencer. They offer a service for this very purpose: WeQ Influencer.
Do I really need a local publisher?Usually, yes. For example, in China you can’t even release a game without a publisher, since you have to complete the complex registration process. Requirements at various stages include a knowledge of Chinese, a Chinese telephone number, and other hurdles. Bear in mind that although it is far easier to release a game in Hong Kong or Taiwan than in mainland China, you will still have to partner with a publisher. Even Chinese giant Tencent can’t release a game in Taiwan without a publisher’s assistance.
In Japan and Korea a local publisher is not mandatory, but such publishers can maintain your accounts on local social networks and suggest ideas for banners and promotions.
What about localization?Although many educated users speak English, they still prefer apps in their native language. But localization raises numerous questions.
Traditional or simplified Chinese? WeQ recommends both options. The main thing is not to confuse the two: in mainland China simplified Chinese is used, while Hong Kong and Taiwan use traditional Chinese. Although users in China understand traditional characters for the most part, reading them is unfamiliar and awkward. And natives of Hong Kong and Taiwan may actually be offended by the use of simplified characters (bear in mind the negative stance of Taiwan and Hong Kong toward mainland China).
Although it’s a temptation to stop at simplified Chinese (there are nearly 900 million users there, after all), Taiwan and Hong Kong are home to more financially reliable, “Western” users. This is why Wachanga, which has already translated its apps into 50 languages, added traditional Chinese and the Hong Kong dialect to their number.
What to translate? One approach is to begin by translating creatives, screenshots, and descriptions for the app page (a favorite tactic of Duck Rockets, which we covered in this article). Translating creatives is not complicated, and the results can surpass all expectations: for example, the CTR index for a Japanese creative from our client Narcade was 70%, compared to a mere 30% for the same creative in English. An easy way to translate short texts like this is to use Nitro: translations are not only quick, but also dependable, since they are handled exclusively by native speakers.
If you are getting frequently repeated questions or complaints in your app’s reviews, translate stock answers into key languages. Most importantly, do not use machine translation for these: it tends to fail miserably with East Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese.
Is there anything that conflicts with Asia’s cultural norms? In our clients’ experience, most Asian users are fairly loyal. The biggest problems arise with the Chinese commission, which decides whether or not to give an app the green light. Standard taboos include blood of any color, skeletons, and even the slightest hint of “improper” moral values. For example, the studio Full HP had to redo a harmless pixelated man-fairy wearing a dress, transforming him into a properly attired Chinese manager. In Japan and Korea the character raised no eyebrows.
Important! The Chinese commission does not permit English words in apps — even the most basic, such as “winner.” All text must absolutely be in simplified Chinese.
App design and local cultureAsian apps differ strongly in style from what we are used to in the West. Typical elements include cartoon and anime characters, a youthful design (cute animals, enlarged heads), and a screen saturated with information. Apps tend to try to cram all the information into a single app screen.
Bilibili is a popular Chinese website with a typical Asian look and feel:
For Japanese players the design is more important than the actual game. A sure-fire approach is to employ a cute anime style, because anime culture is incredibly widespread among all ages. Many Japanese games are based specifically on manga (comics), the best-known of which is Monster Strike — a game popular both in Japan and in Taiwan.
Numerous holidays are an excellent occasion for new events. On holidays people spend more time than usual using their smartphones, meaning that profits from in-game purchases increase several times over. Aside from the Lunar New Year (celebrated in China, Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand), many Asian countries celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. China has the Dragon Boat Festival, Japan celebrates the Golden Week, and there are many other holidays besides.
The number 4 is considered unlucky in China, Korea, and Japan: the word for “four” sounds like the word for “death,” and is avoided. Likewise, in Chinese culture a name written in red signifies a curse, so the names of game characters should not be written in red letters. Lucky numbers are 8 in China and 7 in Korea. This may come into play in apps with games of chance.
In China a widespread tradition is to give money in a red envelope (hong bao), and in the WeChat messenger people can send each other virtual hong bao. You can employ this concept to create unique bonuses for your app. Incidentally, Japan has a similar tradition, but the Japanese use white envelopes.
Ara Jo, WeQ: