Tencent is a Chinese corporation that specializes in online products and services. One of its most important focuses is gaming, not least because the Chinese gaming market was $58 billion in 2020 and is expected to hit $86 billion by 2027. Like a lot of its counterparts, Tencent publishes a lot of titles. However, it has a number of in-house developers as well, with an excellent example being TiMi Studios headed up by Colin Yao.
1. Born in Jiangxi Province
Yao was born in China’s Jiangxi Province. For those who are curious, it is a landlocked province in East China surrounded by the provinces of Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Hubei, Hunan, and Zhejiang. On the whole, Jiangxi is neither particularly rich nor particularly poor by the standards of Chinese regions. However, its proximity to some of the wealthiest Chinese regions such as Guangdong and Fujian has sometimes been blamed for drawing away capital as well as talent.
2. Born in Nanchang
Specifically, Yao was born in Jiangxi’s capital of Nanchang. To a lot of Chinese people, it is famous for being the site of the Nanchang Uprising of 1927, which was started by Chinese Communists in retaliation for the Shanghai massacre carried out by Chinese Nationalists. Besides this, it is interesting to note that Nanchang’s strategic location has turned it into something of a transportation hub connecting East China and South China.
3. Got Interested in Computers at a Young Age
Like a lot of people in tech, Yao became interested in computers as a child. To be exact, he read his older brother’s computer science textbooks from cover to cover when he was still in middle school. As a result, Yao became so interested that he convinced his parents to buy him a basic computer. Something that would introduce him to the world of video games.
4. His First Game Was Diablo
It is interesting to note that Yao’s first game was Diablo. For those who are unfamiliar, Diablo was a hack-and-slash action RPG that came out in 1997, which proved to be so successful that it spawned one of Blizzard’s most famous series. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was influential as well, so much so that it inspired a number of Diablo clones in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Having said that, what Yao found particularly impressive about Diablo was that it ran so well on his computer in spite of the latter’s relatively unimpressive capabilities.
5. Had No Childhood Experience with Consoles
A lot of Yao’s western counterparts have experience with both console gaming and PC gaming. However, this wasn’t the case for Yao. For that matter, this wasn’t the case for most of Yao’s Chinese counterparts. After all, consoles were banned in China from 2000 to 2015, which explains much about why Chinese developers focused their efforts elsewhere for so long. Indeed, it is sometimes argued that the ban contributed a great deal to a Chinese preference for more casual kinds of games.
6. Involved in Making QQ Speed
In any case, Yao is one of those executives who worked their way up the ranks. This can be seen in how he was one of the team members behind 2008’s QQ Speed, which might be better-known to some interested individuals as either GKART or Speed Drifters. As for why QQ Speed is called QQ Speed, well, suffice to say that Tencent has an instant messaging service called Tencent QQ that serves as a portal for everything from blogging and shopping to games, movies, and music. On the whole, the game was quite successful, so much so that it is still being run in the present time.
7. Switched Over to Mobile Games
Soon enough, smartphones saw the same surge of popularity in China than they saw throughout other countries. Since the Chinese gaming industry was already oriented around consumers looking for a more casual experience, it made a smooth transition to producing mobile games for this growing market. Yao was one of the people who participated in this switch.
8. Involved in Making Honor of Kings
For instance, Yao was one of the people involved in making Honor of Kings, which is a MOBA that came out in 2015. This proved to be very successful as well. For proof, look no further than the fact that it had 100 million daily active players in late 2020. There is a separate version of Honor of Kings called Arena of Valor released for international markets, which retains the core systems but has modified characters for the sake of appealing to international consumers.
9. Had to Handle Changing Government Regulation in 2018
Government regulation is one of the challenges that businesses have to handle. In Yao’s case, he was in charge when the Chinese government introduced new gaming regulations in 2018 because it was displeased by the effect that gaming had on health as well as other important concerns. As such, he oversaw various changes, with an excellent example being the introduction of time restrictions on younger players. Something that was specifically meant to address concerns that gaming was too addictive to said audience. Having said that, it is interesting to note that Yao’s operations might have benefited from these regulations to some extent because they also made it somewhat more difficult for foreign games to launch in the Chinese market.
10. Has to Handle the Transition to the International Stage
Currently, Yao has the difficult task of transitioning to the international stage. Recent years make it clear that there is a huge international market up for grabs by the companies that can capitalize upon such opportunities. The Chinese industry has had plenty of experience with making mobile games. However, while that is definitely helpful for making games aimed at an international audience, the relevant expertise and experience aren’t 100 percent transferrable because of different tastes in different markets. Yao’s position means that he is bound to play an important role in Tencent’s efforts to claim a bigger share of the international gaming market. Indeed, one can make the argument that he already has, considering his involvement in Arena of Valor as well as TiMi Studios’s subsequent releases.