China’s LGBTQ community could prove to be a lucrative target market for mobile game developers. According to Zhu Qiming, the CEO of mobile game developer Star-G Technologies, the Chinese LGBTQ community has a “strong demand” for mobile games aimed towards them.
Efforts to appeal to and include LGBTQ gamers across the world have been ongoing in all parts of the games industry. Most notably with Blizzard’s Overwatch featuring a gay character, while The Sims 4 has also removed gender restrictions.
Chinese LGBTQ Community and Mobile Games
In a recent report by China Daily (via GayStarNews), Zhu says that “With rising social tolerance, people in the LGBTI community have begun to demonstrate their identity and meet other members of the community through a range of social activities, including games.” However, this demand is going “unfilled,” thus providing companies like Star-G with a prime opportunity.
Star-G has already found success in appealing to the Chinese LGBTQ community, specifically gay Chinese men. The company received several rounds of funding based on its business plan; to make apps geared towards gay men. Star-G mobile game Green Fox Mountain Legend, which allows players to marry each other regardless of their character’s gender, has also been a hit despite not being a “gay game,” according to Zhu.
The Star-G executive explains that the developer sees “a lot of same-sex unions” and that this feature helped to “lure many supporters from the LGBT community.” Though, it’s unclear if any of this was influenced by the fact that same-sex marriage is not yet legal in China.
Zhu also notes that gay men enjoy video games with good-looking characters, as well as hobbies that include working out, fashion and having healthy lifestyles (a ‘touch of eroticism’ is also a selling point.) These are likely to feature in Star-G’s other upcoming gay-focused game, Rainbow Super Band, which the executive describes as a “very large-scale, complicated game for gay people” to Fortune. Zhu also told China Daily that “it’s a queer thing－I don’t think straight people would appreciate it.”
The executive’s words highlight the fact that appealing to LGBTQ gamers is more than simply just making a game with LGBTQ characters, or games such as Atari’s Pridefest (pictured above) which some said exploited the LGBTQ community rather than appealed to it (our own review noted that Pridefest just isn’t very good.)
If mobile game developers – and indeed game developers on any platform – are to appeal then they will have to account for the fact that LGBTQ people may have different, specific interests to straight and/or cisgendered gamers. As a recent study highlights, female gamers and male gamers (and non-binary gamers, too) have different interests, as do people of different age groups, so developers will have to consider how these identities intersect as well.
Ultimately, those who do the due diligence will be able to reap huge rewards. In the United States alone, the ‘pink dollar’ (money spent by LGBTQ people) is worth $790 billion a year, while China Daily estimates that its ‘pink yuan’ is equivalent to $300 billion a year from 70 million Chinese LGBTQ citizens.