With the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, the Chinese New Year, typically a time for celebration, was impacted due to the cancellation of all major in-person events. While cinemas and theatres shut down to prevent the spread of COVID-19, like people around the world many celebrants were bored while staying at home, and unable to meet with friends or relatives. As a result, the already-substantial Chinese mobile game industry has grown even more rapidly. One hyper-casual game called Sunny Pig Farm (阳光养猪场) consecutively ranked #1 in the iOS Top Free Games during last year’s Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rat. Will it continue to be a dominant force during this, the Year of the Ox?
Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. During the celebration of Chinese New Year, people gather together to make dumplings, watch the annual CNY gala, play fireworks, and exchange red envelopes and gifts. The celebration usually starts a week before New Year’s Day and lasts for another week after New Year’s Day. The Chinese New Year is on February 12th this year, ushering in the Year of the Ox. USC Games is celebrating this year’s Chinese New Year by looking back at popular games from Chinese New Years.
Sunny Pig Farm was developed by Shanghai SongWo Network Technology Co., Ltd, and was released in October 2019. One of the most engaging aspects of this game is its money-making ability. Sunny Pig Farm uses cultivation as its main gameplay mechanic, allowing players to raise and upgrade virtual pigs to gain real cash.
For example, players can earn up to 230 pig coins by completing daily tasks. They can get double the reward by watching in-game ads. The virtual pigs they raise also get different tasks at certain levels, which allow the players to earn even more pig coins. These pig coins can be converted into real cash when accumulated to a certain amount.
Besides the pig coins, another way of earning money is through Sunny Pig Farm‘s special feature – the ‘red envelope’ giveaway. In China, “red” is the symbol of energy, happiness, and good luck. Not only do people wear red clothes on New Year’s Day, but–reflecting real life, as mentioned above–they also give red envelopes to others as a way to send their good wishes. In Sunny Pig Farm, the more time played in the game, the more red envelopes are earned, which contain a random amount of in-game currency players can get. Inviting friends to the game can also trigger the red envelopes giveaway.
Another attractive feature of the game Sunny Pig Farm is that players can turn the virtual pigs they raised online into real pork delivered to their homes. If players can get six or more friends to the game, they get a pound of pork delivered to them. This setting was especially popular among players when the pork price surged in China due to the pandemic. Players enjoy this game a lot because they can play games, earn money, and get real pork to eat all at once. Sunny Pig Farm cleverly integrated a trending topic into their gameplay, generating even greater exposure to the game and further expanding the player community.
The 2021 Chinese New Year is arriving soon. As the COVID-19 situation improves in China, will games like Sunny Pig Farm stay popular? While we are uncertain about the fate of Sunny Pig Farm, the success the game once had certainly opened up more opportunities for those wishing to enter the Chinese market of hyper-casual games.