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Freddie Yang: Online games mogul
The man behind one of China’s largest interactive online gaming portals talks about local gaming and the future of the industry in China
The Chinese online games industry is making headlines around the world. As co-founder of 9you.com, one of largest Chinese online games portals, 33-year old Freddie Yang is one the men most responsibile for the incredible surge in interest.
In a multi-billion yuan industry, business competition is intense. But Yang has maintained a position at the front of the pack. 9you’s interactive community Gtown and music game Super Dancer Online currently have 30 million active users.
CNNGo: What games did you play growing up?
Freddie Yang: When I was a kid I always went to the arcades. I really liked playing Digger and Pacman. I thought, wow, if I could make my own games, that would be really great.
I familiarized myself with the different hardware and I used all the different gaming consoles from Atari on.
I always thought my destiny was making Chinese online games, but my parents made me study art and piano. As I got older I began to enjoy art, literature and writing, and I realized games could combine all my hobbies. Online games are kind of art in itself.
CNNGo: What’s the gaming scene like in Shanghai?
Yang: China’s online games industry development started in Shanghai. All the best companies are here. That’s why [annual online gaming expo/conference] ChinaJoy is held here. Back in the nineties, international game companies opened up research and development offices here.
White collar workers with families are still gamers, but they have no time to play online games. So they bring their wives to the malls and enjoy the arcades for a half hour.— Freddie Yang
Shanghairen like having fun. Gaming needs to be in this kind of creative atmosphere.
In gaming history, Shanghai has always had the most relaxed policy towards arcades. All the gamers would come here to check out the latest arcade games.
Lu Gong arcade was like our mecca. That was before PC games and Internet bars. So Shanghai has always been a good place for gamers to develop.
CNNGo: How did you start?
Yang: At first we made one game and it failed completely. We realized a problem: there are a lot of Chinese online games out there, but not all will succeed. A single game can bring in new players, but if the game fails, in the end, you lose all those players.
In Korea, we saw that there was such a thing as a game portal. It's hard for a single game to succeed, but we thought if we had enough money and enough games together in one place, there’s no way we could fail.
CNNGo: Where is the gaming industry headed?
Yang: I think that gaming might leave PCs and move to arcades. It's a new trend in games globally and will soon come to China.
In Japan, all the arcade games are connected online. If you’re in Tokyo, for instance, you can play Streetfighter at an arcade with someone maybe in a Hong Kong arcade. I think this could be a new direction for online games.
CNNGo: Where do Shanghai’s gaming geeks play?
Yang: There are a lot of arcades in Shanghai. Lots of white collar [workers], in their thirties with families are still gamers, but they have no time to play online games. So they bring their wives to the malls and enjoy the arcades for a half hour or so.
For the latest games we go to Zhenyang, although Caojiadu has the biggest arcade in Shanghai. It’s worth taking a look.
get your game on
315 Guangyuan Xi Lu, near Yishan Bei Lu, across from Bifentang 广元西路避风塘对面, 近宜山北路
Above Shanghai Friendship Store, 1188 Changshou Lu 长寿路1188号曹家渎友谊商店楼上