The IPO-bound Internet giant Alibaba Group entered an exclusive partnership with U.S. mobile game Dots, which will be the first western developed game to land on Alibaba’s mobile gaming platform. Dots will go live for free download in China under the name 点点 (DOTS) via Mobile Taobao application by 9:00 pm today.

For most Chinese users, Mobile Taobao is more commonly known as a m-commerce service. Although Mobile Taobao may not be our first option in finding hit mobile games, it may still lure lots of users to try out the integrated gaming and app distribution functionalities given the huge downloads.

As a dominating force in Chinese e-commerce market, Alibaba is still a latecomer in gaming sector. The company launched a mobile game platform earlier this year driven by the rising mobile game trend. Tencent, a major rival of Alibaba, has recorded 10.39 billion yuan ($1.68bn) of revenue from online game sector in Q1 this year. In addition to home-grown games, Tencent also planned to add several international hit titles, such as Candy Crush Saga and Taming Monster.

Similar to some of the hit mobile games like Flappy Bird and a more recent one Piano Tile favored by Chinese gamers, the gameplay of Dots is deceptively simple but highly addictive. Players only have to take four or more circles of the same color and connect them to make a square. Patrick Moberg and Paul Murphy set up the company in 2013 as part of a four-month development session Hackers in Residence program at Betaworks. According to Dots, five billion gamers played the game in the first year with millions more enjoy it every day.

Paul Murphy, co-founder of Dots, said “We are excited to launch Dots in China with Alibaba Group. This partnership will help us share the Dots experience with hundreds of millions of potential players in China.” But in selection of Chinese partners, several factors other than partner’s huge user base should be taken into consideration, like the positioning and vision of the partners.

When first entering China, Korean messaging app LINE partnered up with Qihoo 360, eyeing on its a huge user base. The cooperation didn’t fulfil prior expectations and LINE shifted to Wandoujia after the one-year contract with Qihoo 360 expired.

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Emma Lee

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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