Google arms mobile games with a new feature to target emerging markets like India

Jonathan Cheung, Google Software Engineer, introduces Google Play's new ‘Country Targeted Store Listings’ at the Game Developers Conference 2019Mobile Developer Day at GDC 2019 Livestream/Google Developers/YouTube

  • Google announced a new feature that will allow game developers to customise their store listings on Google Play according to country groups at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 today.
  • The 'Country Targeted Store Listings' feature gives developers the option to create five sets of countries to target.
  • Google also outlined the importance of emerging markets like India and and a three-prong strategy that will help games be successful in such markets.
Google identifies India as of the key regions in the world where emerging markets present a "big business opportunity" for game developers. And, while creators of a game already have the option to launch games in local languages, a new Google Play feature will allow them to target their store listings to specific countries as well.

We're seeing some really interesting trends in the industry like the explosion of gaming in India, which is not traditionally a huge gaming market. This is, in part, due to the success of PUBG Mobile. This game has become a cultural phenomenon there.

Tian Lim, Google Play's Vice President UX and Product at the GDC 2019

Google Play's new 'Country Targeted Store Listings', announced at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 earlier today let's game developers create up to five groups of countries to target.

Localising a game or any app is about more than just translating the content to a local language. Cultural differences, sometimes, have to be taken into account as well. For instance, the same 11-player ball game is called 'soccer' in the US but 'football' in the UK. So, a sports game would have to take that into account even though the language would be English for both countries.

The most common pain point that we hear from developers about store listings that although they can already localise in different languages, they want the ability to customise their store listings based on where their users live.

Jonathan Cheung, Google Software Engineer at the GDC 2019

The new feature will allow game developers to customise their store listings based on where their users live as well as their locale setting.

So, being able to customise the store listing means game developers will be able to localise every aspect of the game from the icon to the screenshots that are on display as well as the promo message and trailer video.

We're excited to announce powerful new feature only available in Google Play called 'Country Targeted Store Listings'. With this feature, you can customise your store listings based on the users country as well as their locale setting and from the Play Console you can create up to five different groups of countries to serve to a completely different store listing to each group — complete with full localisation support.

Jonathan Chung, Google Software Engineer at the GDC 2019

What does that mean for games in India?

Google has never underplayed India's strategic importance. Even at the GDC 2019, partner development managers at Google, Guy Charusadhirakul and Daniel Trocoli, expressed the importance of emerging markets like India for game developers.

In the three-prong strategy Google outlined to break into these emerging markets, one of the key takeaways was to localize and culturize games for specific countries.

The reason we want to talk to you about emerging markets is because we know it is it a big business opportunity for game developers. However, these markets might be as familiar to many of you who may have been more focused on developed markets like the US, Europe, Japan and Korea.

Guy Charusadhirakul, Google's Partner Development Manager for South East Asia at GDC 2019

Charusadhirakul explains that while over two-thirds of Android devices in the world are located in emerging markets, these markets have a high proportion of entry-level phones. Which is why the other two aspects of Google's strategy for game developers is to optimise games for entry-level phones and adjust the price points for local users.

34% of smartphones in India have less than 2GB RAMGoogle Internal Data/Mobile Developer Day at GDC 2019 Livestream/Google Developers/YouTube

Adjusting the price point is vital because even though the income level in emerging markets like India is on the rise, they're still relatively low compared to developed countries.

Despite all the hoopla around emerging markets, Google's new gaming platform, Stadia will not be available in India just yet. Stadia is built on Google's cloud network, allowing games to be played instantly on Chrome web browsers, Chromebooks and other Chrome devices cutting out the time of having to download a game. In Google CEO Sunda Pichai's own words, it's "a game platform for everyone."

Sundar Pichai during Google's key note address at the Game Developers Conference 2019

But that doesn't mean that market opportunity should be discounted. Google's own data shows that 7 of the countries among Google's top 20 grossing markets are emerging markets and that their spending has doubled over the last two years.

See also:
'Playlists' might not just be for music — but for gaming as well

Google's ambitious plan to push into video games is about to be unveiled: Here's what we know so far

Teens are getting arrested for playing PUBG in India
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