App distributor and content manager Wandoujia released the newest issue of China App Index for last December. Mid-core games with card-collecting elements, longer game lifespan and personal travel apps are three major trends that rule Chinese app market in this winter.

1. Mad for Mid-core: Card Games Collect Gamers

“Mid-core” games have emerged in a niche between hardcore dragon-slaying RPGs and causal puzzle and side-scrolling runner games. Following the huge domestic success of I’m MT, Chinese publishers are crazy for mid-core games, especially ones that use card-collecting elements to drive gameplay. These games synthesize casual gameplay that hooks players in immersive game worlds that keep them interested longer.

Five of the Top10 New Games on Wanduojia have adopted its approach to mid-core, incorporating card game elements as a means of simplifying more involved genres. These 5 games garnered 332,000 downloads all together.

Among the five games, Three Kingdoms 15 takes second place among new games with 105,251 downloads and Papa Three Kingdoms recorded 61,829 downloads. Both of the games combine the popular Three Kingdoms story with a battle system employing hero cards.


Three Kingdoms 15 and Papa Three Kingdoms

Collectable card games was a $4.1 billion business in 2013, according to digital games market intelligence SuperData Research, and the burgeoning digital card game market accounted for a 32% increase in that number over the previous year.

2. Good Games Don’t Die Young

In the mobile era, it is more and more difficult for games to get longer lifespan as compared with the PC era. Let’s see how popularity has ebbed and flowed for various mobile hits.

Card games like I’m MT are assumed to have a longer life cycle than other titles. I’m MT continues to steadily build its audience one year after its release. Of course, card games are not the only ones with a long lifespan, as Temple Run and Fishing Joy also built an audience over a period of 6-18 months before reaching a peak, and now appears to be enjoying a long sunset.

However, the contrast is stark with two other titles that shot to popularity: WePOP, a bubble-popping titled by Tencent, and MomentCam, an app that creates a cartoon likeness. But then each app plummeted, search volume fell by over 66% from its peak within one month.


Source: Baidu Search Index for Mobile

It used to be that developers just tried to rack up as many installs as possible. 2013 demonstrated the power of social media in igniting app craze. In 2014, it is expected that developers should focus on retention and retargeting: getting users to return to the app in the months or years to come.

3. Traveling Gets Personal

Travel apps took three spots on this month’s Fastest Growing Apps ranking, a testament to a shifting attitude among Chinese tourists. Hotel and ticket-booking apps liberate Chinese tourists from package tours, and mobile travel SNS BreadTrip enables them to share itineraries, photos, tips, and dreams of new adventures. BreadTrip recorded 250.804 downloads at a growth rate of 171%.

Top New Game
Fast growing apps

image credit: Wandoujia

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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