Beyond Facebook: Global Social Game Opportunities
November 9, 2010 Page 3 of 3
While neither Mentez nor i-Jet target Japan, DeNA Global (pronounced "DNA") is on the hunt for U.S. social game developers interested in publishing there. The two-year-old, San Mateo, CA-based company is a division of DeNA Co., the Japanese mobile internet company that owns that country's most popular mobile portal site, Mobage Town, which boasts 20 million registered users.
According to Dai Watanabe, president of DeNA Global, DeNA's goal is to grow the largest social gaming platform in mobile here in the States. To that end, DeNA has been acquiring or investing in U.S. game developers, including IceBreaker, Gameview (formerly Bayview Labs), and Aurora Feint. Most prominently, last month it bought San Francisco-based Ngmoco for $400 million.
Ngmoco will serve as a talent scout of sorts for social game developers anxious to have their titles published by DeNA both here and in Japan.
"We had planned to have a business development team that would talk to U.S. developers," says Watanabe. "But now Ngmoco will perform that function instead. Also, we have enabled Mobage Town's open platform to connect its API to Ngmoco's SDK.
"So basically, after a little tweaking, a U.S. game developer can use just one single source code for both the western and Japanese markets and for both IOS and Android. That is the key to what we are calling our cross-device/cross-border strategy."
In other words, Watanabe explained, DeNA's plan is to create games that run on any device in any region of the world.
DeNA is clearly serious about attracting the attention of U.S. game developers. It is using a new pool of cash, called Incubate Fund No. 1, into which it has invested $27.5 million, to provide seed rounds to social game developers. And it has announced a partnership with Yahoo! Japan to create social games.
The new portal Yahoo! Mobage is said to offer the advantage of two user bases of significant size -- Yahoo's 52 million monthly active web-based users and DeNA's 20 million active mobile users. And it is providing services that developers will need to make the transition to the Japanese market, such as translation, hosting, and monetization resources.
One U.S. game developer that has already made the leap to the Japanese market is Burlingame, CA-based CrowdStar, which recently announced that two of its most popular titles -- Happy Island and Happy Aquarium -- are now available on the new Yahoo! Mobage site. The company intends is to bring all of its games to Japan.
"My best advice to developers," says Watanabe, "is to take a look at the social gaming market in Japan, which has just started to explode. Especially if you are struggling to be number one -- or even just successful -- on Facebook. There are many opportunities outside of the United States -- and to ignore them would be foolish."
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