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Key to China is to "work within the system" - EA

Asia-Pacific president explains the publisher's approach to the huge, but fragmented, market

The key to enjoying success for a publisher in China is to "understand the system, and work within it" - an approach that can take time to develop, but is the only way to make real progress.

That's according to Jon Niermann, president of EA Asia-Pacific, who has overseen the growth of FIFA Online in Asia, as well as the launches now of NBA Street and Warhammer Online.

"The key thing is to understand the system, and work within it," he told in an interview at the recent GC Asia event. "You have to respect the government rules, you have to understand how the game is played, and then you have to be part of that.

"You can't change it. I think some people coming in from the West think, "We're the big company, we're gonna come in and change the way it's done!" And they come in and hit the wall, they get smacked down and they disappear."

And he explained that the best way to approach the market is to find a partner - something which EA hasn't been too proud to be able accept.

"For us, part of our strategy has been partnering with people, and I think we can admit that we're not big in China, we're not big in Korea," he said. "We're not that big in Asia - there are other companies that are much bigger than us in the space, even though we're the global leader so to speak.

"In those markets we aren't, and I think if we go in with that understanding, that admission, and we go in and partner with great people, our chances of success are better - and that's what's happened for us."

Niermann also explained that there's no real short cut to success, and that EA's been happy to take time in building up its product in the market place - particularly when you're fighting incumbents for audience share.

"I think when you're taking market share, it's much tougher than creating it. In markets like Australia, which aren't really developed in the online games space, we plan to take a market-leading role. India is in its online infancy, simply because it doesn't have its online infrastructure yet, but we can still get in there and take a leadership role.

"But China and Korea - we're way behind and we have to claw that back. You have to replace someone else's game, and get those consumers, those eyeballs.

"It's a tough proposition, so our growth is going to come from not only the market growing but also displacing competition," he added.

The first part of the interview with John Niermann, in which he also talks about the growth of the Asian market in general, is available now.

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