Alibaba to Localize Japan’s Hit ‘Travel Frog’ Game for China

A Japanese mobile game about a charming, traveling frog, which has surged in popularity in Asia since its November launch, is getting translated for the China market, thanks to Alibaba Group.

The game, “Tabi Kaeru: Travel Frog,” has already found success in China as well as Japan, earning millions of downloads in the Middle Kingdom over the past four months even though only a Japanese-language version of the game is currently available.

But now, as a result of an exclusive partnership between Alibaba and the game’s developer, Hit-Point, a Chinese-language and localized version of Travel Frog will launch in China.

“Travel Frog already has a huge user and follower base in the country,” Alibaba said in a statement. “But now more players, who had been held back from getting the full experience of the game because of language barriers, will be able to access more localized content and surprises after it is launched domestically.”

Alibaba did not say when the Mandarin version of the game would be ready.

Travel Frog has appealed to a Chinese audience because of its easy gameplay and simple plotline, where a tiny cartoon frog takes solo journeys across Japan. Players are tasked with helping the frog pack food for his trips. He could be gone a couple of hours, or a couple of days, and he occasionally sends postcards from the places he visits.

According to the latest data obtained by the BBC, via US-based App Annie, Travel Frog has been downloaded more than 3.9 million times in Apple’s App Store in China. While the initial excitement about the game has begun to subside, Alibaba said it would pursue opportunities beyond the game space, including licensing and content, and work with Hit-Point on merchandising and co-branding opportunities around Travel Frog.

Alibaba said it could help the game unlock its potential licensing value, introducing “more entertainment elements into the Chinese version of Travel Frog, and creating chemistry through cross-platform collaborations.”