Wechat Mini Programs
Wechat Mini Programs

WeChat, owned by Tencent, introduced its Mini Programs and Mini Games platform in 2017, and in 2019, it opened this platform to developers worldwide.

Why Build a WeChat Mini Program?

WeChat boasts over one billion active users per month, making it the primary source of communication in China. Users rely on it for social and professional connections, file sharing, and mobile payments. WeChat Mini Programs offer a unique opportunity to tap into this massive user base.

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  • WeChat Integration: Users don’t need to download anything. They can access Mini Programs without re-logging, leveraging WeChat’s account profiles and WeChat Pay.

  • Utility & Value: Mini Programs offer interactive features, increasing user engagement and adoption.

  • High Virality: Operating within WeChat increases the chances of your app going viral, given its extensive user base.

  • Stability and Compatibility: Mini Programs work seamlessly on devices with WeChat installed and offer cross-platform compatibility.

  • HTML5 Support: You can convert HTML5 apps and games into WeChat Mini Games, leveraging the existing HTML5 ecosystem.

  • Auto-Update: Mini Programs are perfect for testing new features for your native app.

How Do Users Find WeChat Mini Programs or Games?

Users access WeChat Mini Programs or Games through various channels:

  • Invitation from friends or WeChat groups
  • Scanning QR codes
  • Recently accessed programs in the Mini Program history
  • Discover > Mini Program or Games search

How Do You Program a WeChat Mini Program or Game?

WeChat Mini Programs support JavaScript and related languages, such as TypeScript and CoffeeScript. Additionally, the WeChat Mini Games framework provides APIs for graphics, animations, and real-time rendering.

Several game engine makers in China, like Cocos Creator, Egret, and Laya, support WeChat Mini Games. However, some foreign HTML5 game engines may require adaptations.

Keep in mind that CSS and DOM cannot be used in development, and performance may be lower than native apps. So, rigorous testing is essential.

Link: WeChat API & JS SDK Documentation

How Do WeChat Mini Programs and Games Launch?

WeChat launches a small program package with a maximum size of 8M to enhance loading speed. For larger games, you’ll need to host some resource files on your own server.

To start, users scan a QR code, which downloads the program package and initializes the code. Then, the code requests remote server resources, resulting in the first screen of your program or game.

How are Mini Programs different from Mini Games?

WeChat Mini Games have their category and entry points in WeChat’s game menu, along with additional APIs like leaderboards.

Link: Best Design Practices for WeChat Mini Programs

How To Get Started – The Hard Way

Starting your journey to develop and publish a WeChat Mini Program or Game in China can be a complex process, especially if you are not a Chinese entity. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide on how to navigate this challenging path.

Important Note: Eligibility for Non-Chinese Entities Before we delve into the steps, it’s crucial to understand that WeChat’s policies currently dictate that only Chinese companies, Chinese individuals, or companies with a Chinese entity (commonly known as a Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise or WFOE) are eligible to publish WeChat Mini Programs or Games. This means that if your organization doesn’t fall into one of these categories, you’ll encounter restrictions in developing and publishing on this platform.

Entities Eligible for WeChat Official Accounts

Entity Description
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.

If you don’t fit into any of the categories mentioned above, you’ll need to explore alternative options for entering the Chinese market, such as establishing a business presence in China. Options include setting up a WFOE, forming partnerships with Chinese companies, or exploring joint ventures. These approaches can provide the necessary legal framework for your organization to publish WeChat Mini Programs or Games.

1. Register Your Developer Account and Open A New Project

The first step is to create a developer’s account with WeChat. While this process may seem straightforward, it’s essential to have a legal entity that qualifies under WeChat’s guidelines. This can be a challenging aspect, especially for non-Chinese entities.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Go to the official WeChat account registration page.

  • Select “Mini Programs” and fill in the required information, including service category and subcategory (e.g., “Game” and “Casual Game”).

  • Prepare to submit the necessary documents and licenses. This step closely resembles the requirements for publishing native apps in China. For instance, since your server will be in China, you will need an ICP Bei’an, among other possible licenses.

  • It’s important to note that the registration process requires a 300RMB fee for verifying your company’s identity with WeChat. Be prepared for a waiting period, as approval for your official developer’s account typically takes 1-3 days. If your application is rejected, you may be contacted for additional documentation.

  • Once your account is approved, download the developer tools according to your operating system platform from the official WeChat Developer’s website.

  • In the Mini Program Management backend, register your Mini Program to obtain its AppID.

  • Open the WeChat development tools, input the corresponding AppID and project name to start your project.

  • If your Mini Program or Game involves payment processing, you must go through the process to register and verify a WeChat Pay account before you can integrate payments into your app.

This process can be demanding, but it’s a critical step in developing a WeChat Mini Program or Game. Be prepared to navigate the intricacies and legal requirements.

2. Create Your Code Files and Begin Programming

Now that you have your developer account set up, it’s time to start the technical development process. WeChat Mini Programs primarily support JavaScript and related languages like TypeScript and CoffeeScript. Additionally, the WeChat Mini Games framework provides APIs for graphics, animations, and real-time rendering.

Several Chinese game engine makers, including Cocos Creator, Egret, and Laya, support WeChat Mini Games. However, some foreign HTML5 game engines may require adaptations to work seamlessly with the platform.

One important thing to note is that you cannot use CSS and DOM during the development of a WeChat Mini Program or Game. Additionally, performance may be lower than native apps, so rigorous testing and optimization are essential to ensure a smooth user experience.

For detailed guidance, you can find official tutorials and the API documentation on WeChat’s official website.

Link: Official WeChat Mini Program Developers Documentation

3. Get a Mobile App ICP Filing Number

Effective from September 1, 2023, a critical new step has been introduced for all apps seeking publication on app stores in China. Now, before you can launch your app, you must undergo the ICP Filing process. For existing apps in China, it’s equally vital to obtain a valid ICP Filing Number by March 31, 2024, to ensure your app’s continued presence on app stores.

The ICP Filing process is a mandatory legal requirement in China, ensuring compliance with the country’s stringent regulations for internet content and services. It serves as a fundamental step in the journey of launching your app to the Chinese market.

For detailed guidance on how to obtain a Mobile App ICP Filing Number in China, please refer to our comprehensive guide: How To Obtain a Mobile App ICP Filing Number in China.

This step is crucial to ensure that your app meets all the necessary legal requirements and maintains its visibility on app stores within China, making it an integral part of your development process.

4. Submit Your Mini Program or Game For Approval

After you’ve completed the development of your Mini Program or Game, the next crucial step is to submit it to the WeChat team for review and approval. The approval process typically takes 1-3 days.

It’s essential to understand that the same laws and content restrictions that apply to native apps in China also apply to WeChat Mini Programs and Games. Ensure your content complies with Chinese app regulations during the development process.

Link: Legal Regulations and Content Restrictions on Apps in China

By adhering to these strict regulations, you can increase the chances of a successful approval for your WeChat Mini Program or Game.

How To Get Started – The Easy Way

If the hard way seems too daunting, consider using a service like 21YunBox to quickly develop and publish your WeChat Mini Program. They can handle much of the paperwork and documentation, ensuring you get your app up and running smoothly.

Contact 21YunBox for a custom quote and get your Mini Program launched hassle-free.