China is a massive, complicated market for game developers. There’s a substantial potential player-base, but the government’s tough internet regulations make it hard to adequately market anything in the region. As such, the only game Paradox has released there is Cities: Skylines. Aware of the gigantic player population the country holds, Paradox is looking into ways of appealing to them more.
Asked about Paradox’s plans for China at PDXCON, Ebba Ljungerud, CEO of Paradox, said that the studio’s happy with the current situation with its fanbase. “What we do is, we communicate with the Chinese audience, the ones who seek out to communicate with us,” she explained. “We don’t, necessarily, try to push games within the firewalls, but we’re happy with the way it’s working now.”
She says a project specifically for Chinese players, akin to Sega’s Three Kingdoms, is an appealing way to further Paradox’s presence. “I could see, that we in the future, would make a game for China, like Three Kingdoms, that would be more relevant for the Chinese history nerd,” she said. “But that’s not there right now, and that would be something that would be interesting outside of China as well.”
Shams Jorjani, Paradox Chief Business Development Officer, said that Paradox’s games are banned for a reason, and the company remains unwilling to compromise for Chinese censorship laws. He believes they can grow without changing what they’re doing: “We think there’s potential for us to reach even more, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop doing the things we’re doing now to reach them. Rather, maybe there are other things we can do that will also cater to them.”
Many of these players have set up forums that stretch beyond Paradox’s official message boards. “There are Paradox forums in China that are bigger than our forums,” Jorjani said. “We don’t directly work with them, but on Steam and other platforms there are tons and tons of Chinese players.”
At least some of those players are coming from piracy, too. “Someone told us that there’s a forum for Europa Universalis with four of five hundred thousand members,” Ljungerud says. “We were like ‘oh, we haven’t sold that many games’ and they were like ‘oh, we’re also very good at piracy in China'”
For more from PDXCON, you can read about what Paradox thinks of cross-play, the announcement of Crusader Kings 3, the new expansions for Battletech, Age of Wonders: Planetfall, and Prison Architect, or you can give Crusader Kings 2 a go for completely free.