"I love the country and the culture, (...) especially the beautiful neon-lit cities were always very much in my mind, it's also actually something that influenced our games very much.”
These are the words of Bernd Lehahn - founder of Egosoft, one of the oldest independent studios in Germany and the main hero of our most recent case study.
No wonder the Chinese community is more and more interested in the X series. Our cooperation started in November 2022, and ever since then the number of players has grown steadily to peak with the release of a new expansion.
“We make space games.”
It’s certainly one way to describe over 25 years of constant work on the X series - popular space simulators, allowing players to freely explore the ever-expanding universe. Whether they want to focus on trade, combat or creating an empire - they can trust the team at Egosoft is constantly dedicated to improving their experience and making it more modern.
What could be a next step for such a well-recognizable studio?
The answer is simple - reaching even a wider audience. This is when the Chinese market comes into play.
Despite 8% of their global sales coming from China, there was a lack of communication towards Chinese gamers, which presented a significant potential for growth. We saw a lot of opportunities since the X4 series has already attracted a wide community. There were hundreds of videos with high engagement rate and an existing modding scene.
Our cooperation started in November, with a kick-off meeting taking place on 7.11.22. At the beginning of our work, X4 was quite popular in its genre, but not known to the wider audience. As the series has a high entry level, the players were mostly hardcore fans.
Our cooperation was aimed at increasing brand awareness and promoting the X4 series to the Chinese gaming community.
2. OUR SOLUTIONS
In order to achieve that, we were responsible for:
- Content creation and localisation
You cannot enter Chinese social media without content in Chinese. Besides creating posts, we also took care of localizing announcements and existing videos - for example, the official trailer for the game.
The results speak for themselves - in only 72 hours after launch, the trailer reached 17k views without any paid promotion. We managed to organically gain 497 followers, 390 likes, 54 shares and 174 comments - with many expressing excitement for future content. It was the first video published on Egosoft’s Bilibili channel, aimed at an entirely new audience - with no prior contact before that.
- Distribution on Bilibili & Heybox
Registration of the official accounts on Chinese social media is an important step in a long term strategy for the market. The process itself wasn’t as smooth as we hoped - getting the official certification took longer than expected. Fortunately, we managed to go through it, allowing us to distribute our content. Starting from scratch, in the last 4 months we gained 2101 followers on Bilibili.
- Influencer outreach
We created an influencer database and conducted outreach with a goal of establishing relationships with Chinese content creators. The most prominent result of this cooperation was 1 hour long video published by 机械天团 - channel with 89k fans. It was definitely one of our records on Bilibili - right now, it has 51 thousand views, and it has reached 1979 likes and 307 comments. 机械天团 (Mechanical Sky Team) spent hundreds of hours playing the series and created a tutorial for new players, allowing them to enter and explore the secrets of X4 universe.
The popularity of the video was a good indication of the value they had for other players. As the series can present serious challenges for newcomers, 机械天团 guide helped them to make first steps in its vast world. Looking at the comments, the video achieved this purpose. Many people praised the creators and the game (“this is so much fun!”) and thanked them for their content.
- PR Outreach to Chinese news outlets & bloggers
As a part of our agreement, we also took care of establishing contact with Chinese news outlets. We also distributed game keys during the Taipei Game Show in February, working on relationships with influencers and media.
- Community management on Chinese social media
As there was no previous engagement with Chinese players, showing them that the developer cares about them and is there to stay was key. In order to achieve that, we were sure to address their comments, and feature content that attracted new players (key giveaways) and catered to the existing ones (ask me anything post).
The most prominent piece we were responsible for was the interview created specifically for the Chinese gamers. It’s definitely something we are the most proud of. One of our team members, Aleksander Ptak, gathered the community's questions and during a 30-minute long video asked them to Egosoft’s founder, Bernd Lehahn.
Bernd explained in detail his motivations behind creating and developing the X-series universe. The main idea was to grant players the opportunity to be what they want and freedom in leading their journey in the virtual universe, making the games more accessible to a wider audience. The players from China had a unique opportunity to learn that it was Hong Kong and its neon-lit cityscape was a big inspiration to the studio.
You can watch the full interview on Egosoft’s Bilibili channel.
3. OUR RESULTS
Between September 2022 to April 2023, the number of players on Heybox grew from 20k to 30k, and the rating has risen from 7.6 to 7.9. You can see the comparison below:
When we started, the average number of players online was 1468. Ever since then, the numbers grew to 4716, with 5,281 in April.
What’s more, during the premiere of the new DLC the number of simultaneous players in the game grew by +174.8% on Heybox, reaching a record peak: 10,720, up from 7,568 in the past year.
Building a long-lasting connection with the community is definitely key if you are looking to enter the Chinese gaming market. The reaction to the fourth expansion was a great indication of that. Looking at the huge amounts of comments and enthusiasm among the Chinese players during the last month, we can’t wait to plan for the future and wonder: what else can we do to further increase that interest?
This would be a great place to end with a Calendly link and a quick CTA, but instead we would love to give you a glimpse into Egosoft’s Chinese community. After all, what’s the best place to see the impact of our actions but words of actual players from China?
There is no better praise than reading the personal stories of these gamers, taking their time to send the developer some nice words and wishes for the future.
That’s what we hope too. Huge thank you to the whole Egosoft’s team - it was a real pleasure to be working with you during these past months.
Quoting Bernd’s final message from our interview:
“It’s great that you guys are now finding our game more and that it is getting more successful in China. I love the country, I love the culture, and it would be really nice to see more of you joining us and becoming more active. Maybe we can soon see each other in the online version, that would be really exciting.”
That’s what we all wish for in the future.
With warm regards from the entire Huqiao team ~