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Virtual beau captures female hearts in China


Shanghai: With his dashing looks, it’s little wonder that 28-year-old tycoon Li Zeyan has wooed hundreds of thousands of women across China – not bad for an avatar in a mobile game.

Li is the most popular character in Love and Producer, a Chinese simulation game that has been downloaded more than 10 million times since debuting in December, mostly by women seeking steamy fantasy affairs with its four virtual suitors.

Its viral popularity has highlighted a huge potential market for the gaming industry in China, where one in four mobile phone gamers is a woman – numbers that are expected to grow.

The game, and a separate one also aimed at women in which users can “mother” an intrepid frog character, have leapt into the top ranks of China’s most-downloaded mobile games.

The frenzy over the games has focused attention on China’s “she economy” – the expanding consumer power of its hundreds of millions of smartphone-wielding women – just as game developers face slowing growth in the gigantic market for battle-and-strategy games aimed largely at Chinese men.

In Love and Producer, players choose from four Prince Charmings – business CEO Li, a scientist, a special agent and a famous singer – attractive “catches” that tap into the rising relationship expectations of Chinese millennial women.

China’s huge population of mobile users already increasingly live through their smartphones, communicating via messaging apps like WeChat, sharing on social media, and paying digitally for a range of goods and services with a tap on their phone screen.

Love and Producer now also offers the chance to have a virtual fling while sitting on the bus, said Liu Yixuan, a 19-year-old university student.

“A third of my friends play the game and many insist on calling themselves Li’s ‘wife,’” Liu said.

“I’m intrigued by the characters’ good looks and the graphics, but other ‘wives’ are obsessed with talking to their ‘husband’, who will reply with sweet words in a deep and attractive voice.”

Created by Nikki Games, a developer in eastern China, it was patterned on Japanese “otome”, or “maiden” games, simulated romance worlds generally aimed at women.

China already is a mobile-gaming leader, with Internet giant Tencent in particular raking in profits from games like the hit Honour of Kings. — AFP

   

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