OpenFeint’s Partnership With The9 Brings 60 Games From The West to China

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By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

Mobile-social gaming network OpenFeint gave a little update today on its partnership with China’s The9 to help break Western developers into what may eventually become the world’s biggest market.

After three months, The9’s Game Zone will be distributing 60 titles through 30 app stores in China from developers like Glu Mobile, THQ, Handygames, HyperBees and Advanced Mobile Applications.

The pair also picked the first five developers they will support with financing from their $100 million fund. Pix’n Love Rush by BulkyPix, Shift!2 by Fishing Cactus, iSlash by Deullo Games, Mini Motor Racing by Binary Mill, and Babel Rising by BulkyPix will all get ported to Android from iOS with help from the fund, called Fund9. Developers interested in the fund can e-mail The9 here.

OpenFeint’s and The9’s partnership comes at a time when China is becoming a significant market for several of the very biggest mobile developers. Rovio Mobile told us earlier this year that China is their second most lucrative market. They recently opened a marketing and operations office in the country, created a “Moon Festival” version of Angry Birds Seasons and signed a partnership with Letao to sell Angry Birds shoes. OpenFeint’s Android-focused rival, mobile-social gaming network PapayaMobile, also recently launched a portal and localization program for developers interested in reaching Chinese consumers.

In addition to language and cultural differences that developers must overcome to reach Chinese consumers, the market is also particularly fragmented. There are a host of Android-based phones that may not necessarily be compatible with Google’s sanctioned Android Market. Hence, The9 is working with dozens of app stores in the region. Those include the carrier stores like China Unicom’s WoStore, China Mobile’s MMStore and China Telecom’s 189Store. Then there are other stores like gfan, HiAPKMeizu, Mumayi, EOEMarket, AppChinaNduoa, Yingyonghui, coolmart, GoAPK, aimi8.com and appoole.com.

As for the two companies themselves, OpenFeint was acquired earlier this year for $104 million by Japanese mobile gaming company GREE. The9 is a Shanghai-based gaming company with a market capitalization of $141 million. It produced a net loss of $44.7 million on revenue of $4.6 million in the fourth quarter of last year because the company had to write down an investment in a Korean game developer. It will report earnings for the first half of this year on August 16.