Tencent looks to boost mobile content with GameSalad partnership

Chinese giant Tencent is looking to bolster its mobile content offerings by signing a deal with GameSalad, the makers of a free game development toolkit that allows non-coders to create iOS, Android and HTML5 mobile games.

Under the terms of the deal, a new Chinese language version of the GameSalad Creator tool will be integrated directly into the Tencent platform. Games created using the Tencent version of the GameSalad tool will have access to local carrier billing, social features through Tencent’s QQ Game Center and will be able to incorporate advertising from MobWin, Tencent’s in-house mobile advertising service.

Over the past year, Tencent has been trying to expand the role mobile games and apps play in its sprawling business, which already includes chat, social networking and SMS messaging services. To support this, the company has created its own versions of popular Western-developed apps like Instagram and Draw Something to bolster its mobile user base, and it even rolled out its own line of Android-based HiQQ smartphones.

The deal with GameSalad could bring thousands of new Chinese-developed games under Tencent’s umbrella. Since GameSalad’s debut in 2009, more than 300,000 developers have registered with the service and created more than 60,000 apps. With 700 million Tencent users now gaining access to the platform, that number could become a drop in the bucket.

The deal also gives the Western developers who have already made games with GameSalad Creator easy access to the Chinese market through Tencent’s mobile platform, but it’s unclear how successful a Western-developed game will be in China without significant support for translation and localization. It is worth noting however, mobile games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds are just as popular in China as they are in the West.

The deal puts Tencent in more direct competition with The9, the Shanghai-based company that’s been working on moving away from its PC gaming business and into operating its own mobile-social gaming platform. The9 Game Zone currently has 685 titles from 500 developers in its lineup. Tencent will also have to compete with companies like PapayaMobile and DeNA, which has been aggressively expanding its Chinese operations for a share of the growing mobile gaming market.

Tencent’s version of GameSalad Creator is currently in beta, but the tool will roll out to all Tencent users sometime this summer.