PETALING JAYA: Malaysian zombie fans, forget Walking Dead or the Living Dead. There is a new zombie tale in town – the Chinese Zombie War.
According to its creator, Chan Kam Wai, 29, the zombies in this mobile app game are already part of Asian culture.
“They are based on the 1980s zombie movies we used to get from Hong Kong. Do you remember? Unlike the Western zombies, the Chinese zombies hopped around.
“The culture is familiar to many Asians, so when we came across it in our research for possible game ideas, we decided this was the one,” he said.
The familiarity of the horror genre resonated with many, especially from China and Taiwan, making it one of the most successful mobile apps from Malaysia.
The Chinese Zombie War was launched in May and has since become one of the Top 20 most downloaded apps in China.
“We have had more than 250,000 downloads, some 90% of the downloads are from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong,” said Chan.
Now with a second edition, Chinese Zombie War 2, the app game has generated more than RM60,000 in revenue since its launch on the Apple AppStore. It was also one of the top three most downloaded apps in China for three weeks.
The Chinese Zombie War tells of a rookie Taoist priest, Sung, who meets some Chinese zombies in the jungle. At a loss on how to fight them, he is rescued by a beautiful female ghost who trains him to defeat the living dead.
Said Chan: “Asian culture is rich and diverse, so we decided to tap into it and market it globally. Many Westerners accept Eastern culture like the Samurai, Ninja and Kung Fu culture, so it shows that they are interested in Eastern culture but may not be exposed to what else is available. We also wanted something that we could relate to.”
The Chinese Zombie War was developed under the MSC Malaysia Integrated Content Development Programme (Icon), one of the government initiatives run by the Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) to drive forward the app developing industry in Malaysia.
Since Icon’s launch in 2008, 307 apps have been developed under the programme while some 1,115 people received basic programming training and over 300 were trained on mobile app developing on the iOS and Android platforms.
Unfortunately, the Chinese Zombie War is more the exception than the rule when it comes to local apps breaking into the global or even regional market.
Despite government initiatives to nurture the local app development industry, to date there are only around 680 active Malaysian app developers and some 600 Malaysian apps in the market.
This is only a fraction of the global market; earlier last week, Apple announced that its iOS App Store now has more than 1.5 million apps, which have been downloaded 60 billion times, while some US$60bil (RM192bil) have been paid out to app developers on its platform. There are an estimated 700,000 apps on the Android platform.
The app market boom is expected to grow, and as research firm Gartner estimated recently, the total number of app downloads worldwide will reach 268 billion by 2017.
MDeC Digital Enablement Division director Wan Murdani Mohamad said that about 80% of apps downloaded in Malaysia now are foreign content.
“Malaysians are overdependent on foreign content, so we need to get more local content out. Our local stories, history and culture make the ideal resource for generating content,” he said.
Once a mobile app is in the market, it is already in the global reach, so Malaysian app developers need not worry about making their content “international”, said Wan Murdani.
“You need to have an original idea to be successful as there are many apps out there. Try to globalise local content. Even Angry Birds started as a local app before it hit big.”