Nikki Games is the developer of Evol Lover. /CGTN Photo
For a long time, the most popular mobile games in China were all about battles and competitions… that is, until very recently.
Two wildly popular games now are drastically different from previous bestsellers.
One comes from Japan, where you feed a frog who travels a lot.
The other, called Evol Lover, is a Chinese game, where you play as a show producer who has romantic encounters with not one, but four incredibly handsome guys.
Many gamers are giving positive reviews.
"The plot, visual style is much better than other existing games," said one gamer.
"For my friends who are really fascinated, they are mostly single and don't want to spend effort in keeping a relationship", said another.
Obviously, it ticks many boxes of what female gamers are looking for.
But here's the twist: the gameplay is based on using virtual cards, and if you ever grow fond of one of the characters, which many avid players will, and want to collect all his cards, the player needs to – you guessed it – pay money.
"They never spent money in the games but they did it the first time in Evol Lovers. Draw cards from the pool. Oh, and you also want to share, see I drew this card from the pool and you want to share it on WeChat," said Yang Xin, who spent 10,000 yuan in just three weeks of playing this game.
According to analysts, this strategically designed mode of gameplay and its social media effects are what make the game a money-making machine for the company that developed it, Nikki Games.
"According to our monitoring, the card game genre is one of the most lucrative types of games", said Dong Zhen, a gaming analyst from Analysys, an analytics firm.
The takeaway here from the popularity of the game is that the industry is taking the female gaming community more seriously.
Back in the days of PC gaming, it was mostly a boy's club, where players needed to assemble a high-performance computer to play the best games.
But now, most people own a smartphone, and China nowadays makes the most popular mobile games.
Half of the players in King of Glory are female. Nikki Games believes that the female gaming market needs to be further cultivated.
"If you click open any gaming news website, this is how they label different genres: battle games, war games, action games, and female games. For about 50 percent of our population, they only have one sub-section. That is not fair. They deserve more games dedicated to them," said Bruce Liu, vice president of Nikki Games.
However, there are things that developers should pay attention to.
According to some gamers, girls have slightly different gaming habits than boys. For one thing, many girls might not have the same kind of diehard loyalty to one particular game as many boys do.
"Female gamers usually have their own communities. These communities, they may start from one game, and they may transfer to another game. The most fascinating thing is, for female gamers, if one or two figures out of one game are fascinating, they will do their best to promote the game to other female gamers in that community, so the whole community changes to another game," said Yang Xin.
Simply put, fast changing social media trends might affect the life cycle of new games. That means to stay ahead, developers will have to keep on innovating.