Noriyaka Kobayashi’s talk on GREE.

Quite a busy week for Verne.

Continuing where Verne left off for the Philippine Game Development Festival 2011, schedules were quite delayed by an hour. When Verne arrived at the theater to listen to Boomzap‘s Allen Simonsen’s keynote entitled “Find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in life,’ it was already ending which meant the only thing Verne remembers as he entered the theater was the jump made from the stage to the ground. lol. Now that’s sad. Verne kinda figured that he was going to go to see Paraluman Cruz’s (Luna) – Boomzap Method Game Design Track beforehand to learn more about how they do things so…Verne just assumed maybe he’ll sit in lol.

Image representing GREE as depicted in CrunchBase

"Making the world a better place through the power of the internet."

Anyways, next up was GREE. Introduced was their Head of Business Development for the Asia Pacific Region, Noriyaka Kobayashi. His topic was about the current position of social and mobile game in Asia. Not a lot of people will hear about GREE – It’s actually a social networking service that’s purely devoted to mobile gaming, making money through the sale of virtual items. That concept sounds all too familiar. Personally Verne is not a fan of mobile gaming.

The talk consisted of a short graph indicating the growth of mobile users in the next year at the same time, it felt like an opportunity for introduction of the company to the developers who were present.

GREE is owned by Asia’s youngest billionaire (age 34) as declared by Forbes Magazine – Yoshikazu Tanaka, who claims that this started out as a hobby. Here’s a short video of his interview.

What’s Farmville? lol. Verne notices that Japanese never really think about the competition or maybe they’re just pretending not to.

In Japan alone, they have a 26 million subscriber base. With the acquisition of Openfeint, they intend to go global and expand to different markets,  establishing offices in strategic locations like Singapore, UK, and possibly considering Manila (who knows?). Openfeint has around 140 millions subscribers and GREE’s vision – which was repeated numerous times in the presentation – was to reach 1 billion subscribers.

Aside from developing thier own games, this gaming platform is tied up with Capcom, Konami, Sega, Taito, and Square Enix. Personally, their games are unheard of – save for EA’s FIFA 10 which was a recent collaboration – unless you reside in Japan.

During the presentation, Kobayashi somewhat compared GREE to Facebook and Zynga. Is this to directly compete with Facebook mobile? Hmm.

Strangely, no mention of DeNA‘s Mobage – the other social mobile giant that seems to be their direct competitor. DeNA’s buy-out of ngmoco is part of their quest of global expansion. Is their purchase of Openfeint – their response to this acquisition? Was tempted to raise his hand and ask that during the Q and A.

Here’s my link to the video.   Instead of giving you the lengthy 20 minute video (unless someone requests for it), Verne will let you read a few articles from TechCrunch.

GREE’s challenge to Zynga along with a preview of some of their games – http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/06/japans-gree-to-challenge-facebook-and-zynga-as-global-social-gaming-platform-in-2012/

The other competitor. DeNA’s Mobage – http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/27/dena-and-ngmoco-launch-mobile-social-gaming-platform-mobage-worldwide/

I guess a question that comes to mind would be “Their games are doing well enough in their own market. How would these same games fare out there and which developers will tap this platform?”

Reminds me of a story Verne heard once – that there was this developer from Bioware or some other game developer who came in to meet with some Japanese game company. When this developer came in, the Japanese employees were in awe but when him or his game was presented  to the CEO. CEO didn’t like or rejected the game – not really too familiar with what happened.

This for me is an example of how games from other countries tap each other’s markets. i.e. GREE games sold to the global market, or some developer trying to enter the Japanese market.

You may have a good game but if it doesn’t appeal or it’s not marketed properly to the Japanese or to another market.  That’s a need that has to be addressed. Both GREE and Mobage are making strides in terms of partnerships with  companies in other countries in order to cement their position moving forward. It’s going to be interesting to see how they can change the landscape in six months. So until then – all we can do is wait.  Part Four – wonder when I’m going to finish this.

Update: Facebook has recently acquired four mobile companies in anticipation of this move. Hohoho.

Verne

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2 thoughts on “Noriyaka Kobayashi’s talk on GREE.

  1. malakas nga ang GREE dito sa japan… the central aspect of this years Tokyo Game Show was mobile gaming and they had a whole section for their games… hindi ako gaanong fan ng mobile gaming but the graphics for their games are nice.. tama ka nga.. possible na sa japanese market ok ang GREE and baka magkaproblem kapag nagpaka-global sila.. pero malay nga natin.. lahat naman ng tao ay gamers in their own right.. baka magustuhan nila mga games ng GREE.. who knows…

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