Tobold's Blog
Saturday, February 04, 2012
What's Chinese for "Jedi"?

In the 2001 census in Britain, "Jedi" was the 4th largest religion. Even if probably most of them were just making fun of the government the specific choice of "Jedi" over some other fictional religion shows how much Star Wars is part of our culture. So when Azuriel discussed the plans of SWTOR to expand to Asia, I started to wonder how well known Star Wars is over there.

Actually that several questions: Do the Chinese for example even know "Star Wars", given that when the first films came out they were still behind an iron cultural curtain? And if "Star Wars" isn't popular in China, would a game like Star Wars: The Old Republic sell over there? How much of the success of SWTOR in the West is based on "it's Star Wars!!!", and how much is due to other reasons?

I don't think anybody has a complete answer to that, but if you know anything about the popularity of Star Wars in China or have some thoughts about the other questions, I would be interested in hearing them.
From memory of a bit of googling on the subject a while ago - Star Wars has its following.

Whilst in the "West" the first three films to be released are more popular, with many people disliking Phantom Menace etc.

In China, the second three are apparently more popular, so whilst its known and has its following it still has its own stratifications and differences.
A quick Googling shows that the fansites at least are up-to-date with the franchise. Dunno about the overall popularity, though.
The Chinese of Jedi is "絕地" (lit. final ground, but it is only used as the phonetic representation).

By my observation, most of the Chinese players in SWTOR right now is from Taiwan. (I myself is from Hong Kong.)

Most of us either ordered the physical game package from US retailers online, or though the local game shops to parallel import the game. Due to the timezone difference, most of us are playing on Swiftsure (unofficial Aussie/Kiwi server) right now.

As for localization, the more mature gamers may have a certain interest on a Star Wars MMO, but not the gamer community in general.

The F2P model is well adopted by the publishers in the Traditional Chinese area (Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau), I doubt that SWTOR, given its huge development cost, would be willing to go F2P (or using a login time based model instead of monthly subscription).
I would actually like to point out that Jedi is not just a joke answer for the census, it is an actual religion now with its own church in Wales. They had a bit of publicity a while ago when Tesco (a supermarket chain) asked the founder to remove his hood in their store and he refused.
IFAIK In Asia Star Wars is popular only in Japan.
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Star Wars is massively popular in Japan and Korea. And setting China/related markets aside for a moment. Star
Wars is mostly unknown in the rest of the PAC RIM.

China is a very complex market and I hesitate to call it a market for many industries. For Media (including Games) it's a bit of a mystery where you know people are enjoying western media you just can't seem to get any money for it there.

Taiwan (ROC or whatever politically correct term is in vogue) is a good example of this effect. The educated middle class is just as dense as say Korea/Japan but the per population media revenues just stink there. Is it piracy? Is it recycled media from Korea/Japan? No one knows really.

Mainland China is another mystery. Hong Kong and the Pearl river delta (yes Guangdong is the new term but call me old fashioned) is the main demand market area for most Western goods. It's big with about 1 Billion in population but... still it's mainly an offshore manufacturing site.

Most middle/upper class Urban Pearl River people are very up on western culture and "could" be a market for SWTOR... BUT when these people are used to paying 10 cents for a movie getting them to fork over 150 times that per month seems optimistic.

This is one of the lols I get from these game companies talking up Brazil and China. Yes they are 2nd to 1st world markets in the making. BUT... they are not a market for many goods that the west has based industries on... Software being the main one.

True story, back when Oracle was making a big push into PAC RIM one of those bright MBA grad types said in a meeting "hey why not India!" "they are big I understand they are even teaching Oracle software in their college classes... Just look at all the consultants from India that know Oracle." At that point some old hand in International Sales said "I don't think India is a market for us". But but... started the MBA.

The International guys said "want to guess how many licensed products we have sold in the country of India?"

The MBA type said "I bet it's a lot..."

The Sales guy said "One for one customer"

The moral of this story is that in many markets... legal/cultural/economic realities may well be completely different than in the West.
Admittedly, I'm not a Chinese citizen so I'm not fully intimate with the pop culture in China, but three years of high school spent in China tells me that China for the most part is pretty exposed to western pop cultures, mainly through massive amounts of bootlegging. They do get lots of western movies on the big screens over there, and every bootleg vendor on the street (which there a lot of) has huge backlogs of western movies.

So, as much as China wants to keep a lockdown on their own culture, I'd say the young are pretty exposed to the outside world. As to whether Star Wars and Jedis are popular or not in China though, I can't really say.
I just don't see how this would work being SWTORs biggest draw is it's voice acting and I couldn't see how EA/Bioware could justify translating the entire game via voice acting.

It'd turn out to be like what we call "Asian grinders" when Asian MMOs get ported to the US/EU... cept they'd probably call them "those silly American games".
Anyone know where I can get a Chinese copy of the original "Star Wars" novel by Lucas. I'm interested in getting paperback copies in both the simplified and the traditional characters.

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