Amid the negativity surrounding the purported struggles of the Japanese video game industry, Gree has proven to be a bright point. At a Tokyo Game Show 2012 keynote, CEO Yoshikazu Tanaka laid out the future of the mobile game company, and made some bold predictions about the future of the industry.
Tanaka is doing his best to look ahead and meet the enormous challenges of the mobile game business head-on. One of the key strategies for Gree is an aggressive worldwide studio expansion.
Currently the company has 1800 employees with studios in locations including (but not limited to) Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore, Sao Paulo, London, Vancouver and San Francisco.
"We would like to be a company that creates games worldwide, and our company is growing," he said. But the expansion isn't just for the sake of expansion. Tanaka predicted a growing importance of having game-making studios in many different regions, which will allow the company to serve the specific tastes of global audiences.
"As time goes on, localized services will be required," he said. "In three years time, local development of games will be bigger. That's why we engage in worldwide development activities.
"Global participation will help us come up with new ideas," he added.
The disappearing PC
Another emerging trend in the coming years, Tanaka said, will involve the PC. "The line between PC and mobile has blurred, and that's a trend for this year," he said.
Eventually, he added, "The traditional PC will disappear, and smartphone and PC will converge to become a new platform." He noted that more and more people are using smartphones as their main gateway to the internet, as opposed to PC, and that smartphone shipments exceed PC shipments.
Tanaka chalked this convergence up to the rapid iteration and evolution of mobile platforms -- mobile processors are becoming more powerful, and hardware is becoming more capable with each new launch, outpacing the rate of PC hardware advancements.
Mobile communication infrastructure will improve as well in the coming years, and that will make games friendlier for multiplayer and other more interactive ways to play games.
"The hardware performance will continue to explode," said Tanaka, "and we need to take that into consideration when creating games."
With higher-powered hardware, he also predicted deeper, story-based games will become more common on mobile platforms, in addition to the quick-hit, pick-up-and-play fare.
Emerging markets to explode
Tanaka again set his sights at the global level, saying emerging markets will be exploding with new smartphone users -- and new potential mobile gamers -- in the coming years.
"In four years, emerging countries will have a huge increase in the number of smartphones. ... We'll be able to provide games to them. This is a very big change.
"The people who wanted to play games but weren't able to, will be able to," he continued. "That's a big change that will happen in the next 10 years."