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Japan's Biggest Social Player Turns Its Eyes On the U.S.


July 15, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4
 

So you have a lot of ideas, and you're looking at a lot of different things right now, is my impression.

NA: That's right, that's right, that's right. So we have dedicated teams in the U.S. and Tokyo, they are 100 percent focusing on acquisition investments. Our final goal is to build the ecosystem, so we have to do a lot of investments around the platform and ecosystem.

And then to accelerate that initiative we working with DCM. DCM is a U.S., Menlo Park-based venture capital. Now we set up, with DCM, a new fund called A-Fund. A stands for Android. So A-Fund, they're going to do a lot of investment in social smartphone areas, especially in the Android. Basically Android, but sometimes Android/cross platform.

Is that because you see Android as the real place for growth?

NA: Yes. But you know, also, the iPhone, I think we're going to see very fast growth in each region. But Android, yeah, it's going to be a big wave.

You talked about making investments in your platform to add things like metrics and stuff like that. How much of that stuff is going to be available to the third party developers who sign up with OpenFeint?

NA: It's not provided to third parties yet, but we plan to do that for third parties. Because providing those kinds of analytics and a very good dashboard is a key to read the market. So we think that that's really important.

Now, in Japan, we do provide a lot of detailed numbers on a daily basis. It's more than AppData, or something like that. It's very detailed. Then, based on that experience, we understand the importance of providing very specific detailed data to a PC, online. Yeah, that's my understanding, so we're going to do that. And then we brought some experienced engineers and product managers from Japan to OpenFeint. They are now working in the OpenFeint office to support those kinds of things, so we're going leverage our past experiences. That's a very important part -- our sales updates.

How much are you planning to merge your global tech platform? GREE in Japan, versus OpenFeint in the U.S.?

NA: Yeah actually, basically, the key functionality are almost the same, so to give the benefit for developers, we're going to have common APIs or similarities in features, but there's some features, some points have to be different. So for that part, instead of using one common API, we're going to expand our developer relationship, and then we're going to support developers to customize and localize their game to each market.

Ngmoco and DeNA are going to be very aggressive in terms of offering localization and internationalization assistance to teams across the globe to help bring their games to Mobage.

NA: Yeah, I think the objective is that they're maximizing distribution and monetization for developers. So a one stop solution is not the objective [for GREE]. So I think to expand, to build and support the developer relations team, is very important for each market -- for China, Japan, also the U.S. and Europe, so we plan to expand that developer relations team in the world. But I the think approach is a little bit different from Ngmoco Mobage.

In the U.S., you see experienced developers and management moving over into the social space. A lot of high-profile people have moved to the social space, but in Japan you don't see very much about that.

NA: Actually, that's happening. Now, we hire the very famous talent from the traditional gaming companies. For example, from Square Enix, we hired a very famous producer and he is leading some of our social games.

So, as I said, they are bringing both talent from traditional gaming, and also the web space, like Google is very important. So right now we are working to gather and we have a very hybrid team. So that kind of approach is very efficient when it comes to smartphones.

Can you give me the name of the producer from Square Enix?

NA: He is Mr. Tsuchida, Toshiro Tsuchida. He created Front Mission, Arc the Lad.

Most recently he worked on Final Fantasy XIII.

NA: Then he recently joined GREE and he's working on a social game.

Wow, okay. That's a big deal.

NA: Thanks! I was actually proud of that, yeah. It's very good! Last year, the people at the traditional gaming publishers, they are kind of skeptical, but I think they'll change their mind. And then at the Tokyo Game Show this year in September, we're going to have a big section, a big stage at the Tokyo Game Show.

Now we are trying to build a very good sound relationship with traditional gaming industry and they welcome us to join that. They really understand the importance of social gaming.

What is the value of hiring experienced people like Tsuchida who have a long background in traditional gaming?

NA: Because I think for the basic game balance, game stories, they are all, I think, applicable for social games. But we just bring some social networks, and kind of combine those two. Also, after launch, we have to do a lot of updates and events, or something like that, so that part they don't have -- but GREE has, so we're going to bring those kinds of things from both sides. From GREE's side, and the traditional gaming side.

Are you a member of [Japanese game industry organization] CESA?

NA: Yes, from last year. And actually some key major traditional gaming publishers introduced us to CESA. Actually Square Enix and Koei Tecmo, they supported us to join CESA.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 4

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