Alibaba is keen on cashing in the world’s biggest market for video games—China. The company has signed a deal with Japanese Hit Point, the company behind Travel Frog and Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector. Alibaba will receive exclusive distribution rights in Mainland China for Travel Frog, the mobile phone game that has become a surprise hit among Chinese players.
Alibaba is serious about challenging Tencent and NetEase in the gaming arena and Travel Frog is another step in that direction. The company formally established its video games division after it bought online games firm EJoy founded by former NetEase COO Zhan Zhonghui. Zhang joined Alibaba’s new gaming unit along with Chen Wei’an, EJoy’s product operation manager for World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2, and Wu Yunyang, who led development on Journey to the West 2 and Fantasy Westward Journey.
Although Travel Frog did not have a Chinese version until now, the iOS version of the game has been downloaded more than 30 million times, TechNode’s Chinse sister site reports. The game is so popular in China there are now low-quality copycat games appearing in the App Store. A large portion of its fans are China’s female mobile phone gamers whose numbers have risen sharply over the last year to 367 million, according to the newest report from Jiguang.
The Chinese version of Travel Frog (aka Tabikaeru) will add more landscape animations inspired by Chinese culture, Hit Point has revealed to media earlier. Hit Point also plans to continue its cooperation with Alibaba.