When the mobile game "Despicable Me: Minion Rush" launched in China, Eric Tan and his team at Gameloft were facing a challenge: Chinese gamers weren't spending their digital bananas.
To be precise, the players kept declining to "buy" more game time with the bananas, which they collect throughout the game and can also be used to upgrade characters. So Gameloft decided to let them purchase the time for one yuan.
Spending real money instead of fake money may seem strange, but Tan said the move significantly improved the title's in-app sales in the country.
That experience and others showed Tan that there is money to be made in "culturizing" games for China. Together with fellow gaming executive Craig Derrick, he founded Fifth Journey, a mobile entertainment company that aims to help Hollywood studios conquer China's booming gaming market.
In doing so, they join other developers hoping to wed China's love affair with American movies with the country's mobile game craze.