WeChat (parent company Tencent) launched its Mini Programs and Mini Games platform in 2017. In March 2019, Tencent opened its Mini Games platform to developers worldwide.
WeChat boasts over one billion active users a month. It is the primary source of communication for a whole country, making it the number one app in China. Users maintain their social and professional contacts with it, sharing files and photos. It is the most used mobile payment solution in China, where cash payments are becoming more scarce.
WeChat Mini Programs are an easy way to get your brand into the space because they have:
One reason HTML5 games are popular in China is because they carry a lower traffic cost compared to native games, as many gamers on the Mainland still have limited data plans or no wifi access.
Users enter WeChat Mini Programs or Games primarily through these channels:
The three major game engine makers in China support WeChat Mini Games: Cocos Creator, Egret, and Laya. About 50% of the Mini Games on WeChat use the Cocos engine, with the second-most popular being Laya (25%).
For now, popular foreign HTML5 game engines such as Phaser.js, Three.js do not offer direct support, but can still be used with adaptations.
Please note that CSS and DOM cannot be used during development of a WeChat Mini Program or Game. This means you may have problems with some third-party libraries, such as JQuery (which uses the DOM API). Also, available storage space, memory and performance are lower than native apps, so be sure to test extensively for crashes.
Be aware that WeChat Mini Programs don’t fully use the HTML5 standard. It just simulates these interfaces. So it can be better to develop with an engine that knows the limitations of the WeChat development environment and SDK.
Link: WeChat API & JS SDK Documentation
To improve loading speed, WeChat launches the first-package and a sub-package with a maximum size of 8M. As this is unlikely to be large enough for your game, you will need to host some resource files on your own server.
So to get your program, a user scans your QR code, which will download a small program package from WeChat and complete its code initialization. Then the code in this package will request remote server resources as it executes, finally bringing the user to the first screen in your program or game. This is why it is important to control the size of your Mini Program or Game to get the best user experience and minimize load times.
WeChat Mini Games have:
Link: Best Design Practices for WeChat Mini Programs
You will need to create a developer’s account with WeChat to begin developing your WeChat Mini Program or Game.
Note: You must be a Chinese company or individual, or your company must have a Chinese entity (or WFOE), in order to publish a WeChat Mini Program or Mini Game. At this time, overseas companies and non-Chinese individuals can only open either a WeChat Official Service account or Subscription account – neither of which will allow you to develop Mini Programs or Games.
Entities Eligible for WeChat Official Accounts
|Individual||WeChat users aged over 18 with a Chinese ID card and have completed real-name authentication.|
|Company||Companies, branch offices, and business-related brands.|
|Company (Individual Business)||Individually owned industrial and commercial households.|
|Government||All levels and kinds of government agencies, public institutions, and social organizations with administrative functions in China.|
|Media||Newspapers, magazines, TV stations, radio stations, and news agencies, etc.|
|Other organizations||Other entities that do not fall into the government, media, company, or individual categories.|
1. Register Your Developer Account and Open A New Project
2. Create your code files and begin programming.
Link: Official WeChat Mini Program Developers Documentation
3. Submit Your Mini Program or Game For Approval
After your Mini Program or Game is complete, submit it to the WeChat team for review and approval. The approval process usually takes 1-3 days.
Note that the same laws and content restrictions that apply to native apps in China also apply to WeChat Mini Programs and Games.
Link: Legal Regulations and Content Restrictions on Apps in China
AppInChina can quickly develop and publish a WeChat Mini Program for you, based on your specifications and needs. We can also streamline and help you avoid some of the paperwork and documentation normally required, while you retain full rights to your Mini Program. Depending on your needs, Mini Programs can be developed in as little as as 1-2 weeks. Contact us below for a quick custom quote.