Coverage of Mobage Open Platform Forum 2012

Last Wednesday 25th took place the annual Mobage Open Platform Forum. A huge event, with hundreds of attendees and lots of presentations. Still, the most interesting points were related with the need of making Japanese mobile social games global.

The message from DeNA to the developers was crystal clear: go abroad and go ASAP. Localize language, but don’t mind to localize any other thing: you need to be out in 2/3 months, it’s now or never.

They are basing their assumption in the recent success of Rage of Bahamut from CyGames, which just hit the 1st place of top-grossing apps at Google Play (press release here [EN]). Seems like the KPIs of this game in America are really close to the Japanese KPIs, a shocking fact since nobody believed it was possible to replicate the Japanese ARPU abroad. As DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu and ngmoco CEO Neil Young said, this demonstrate that the browser games can work in America, and of course that represents a huge opportunity.

So the idea is: keep the Japanese core of the game because it works. Not only Rage of Bahamut is being successful, TapFish (10th) and Ninja Royale (14th, with an ARPDAU multiplied x6 since launching) are showing there is a way to go.

Some of the advises of ngmoco CEO Neil Young to the audience:

  1. Make the game focusing on monetization.
  2. Take part of all available platforms: Android, iOS, etc.
  3. Localize not only to English, but French, German and Spanish as well.
  4. Take in account the cultural differences about theme, art and UI.

DeNA is recommending to develop web and app hybrid games, since they are easier to update and multiplatform. In that direction, they presented PEX, a tool to convert HTML5-Javascript games to native apps improving velocity and capabilities (it will be available by the end of may); and also an update of ngCore, their tool for making native apps, remarkably improving the performance of the previous version.

For those on Big Data business, they also talked about their needs regarding managing huge amounts of information, since they have 40 million users and 2 billion data-points every day.

About the presentations of new games, the most interesting one was shipped by BNDeNA, showing a Macross game with lots of 3D action as well as social interactions with other players; actually it looks more like a console game than a mobile social game.

BNDeNA presentation

(DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu and BNDeNA CEO Shin Unozawa, this one a little bit embarrassed about the name of his company)

Finally, the Mobage Awards 2012: Platinum Prices were given to Sengoku Collection (Konami), Rage of Bahamut (CyGames) and Idolmaster (Bandai-Namco); the Partner of the Year was Gloops (price handed out by the idol Yui Aragaki).


Spain Joins Vocaloid Fever

Probably you know about Vocaloid, one of the most advanced voice synthesizers apps. Hatsune Miku, a huge successful Japanese virtual idol, was created using this software.

What you may not know is the Vocaloid software itself, which is a Yamaha Corporation trademark, was developed in a joint research with the Pompeu Fabra University of Spain. Maybe because of that, to find a Spanish company developing two new vocaloid artist is not that surprising. Their names are Bruno and Clara, and they are a creation of a company called VoctroLabs.

Bruno y Clara - Vocaloid

Following this link you will find one of their songs; quite “latino” style. They generated a lot of expectation, seeing the +23.000 views of this video; but what almost everybody agrees is the design is not best. Let’s see if VoctroLabs is able to bring this product in the correct direction.

From december of this year, these vocaloid voices will be available for your own creations (if you know Spanish, of course). They will make the announcement at their blog.

Hard Times May Come For Softbank After KDDI Gets iPhone5

Some days ago we reported KDDI may distribute the next iteration of the iPhone. Now the reactions are coming: Goldman Sachs predicts hard times may come for Softbank [J], Softbank falls a 5% at Tokyo Stocks Exchange.

Softbank, with a 21% share of the market, is the third leading mobile service provider in Japan, trailing NTT DoCoMo (48%) and KDDI (27%). Although the company won a major advantage by being the country’s exclusive iPhone distributor, its relatively poor coverage area and services have come into question lately, leading many to state that if another carrier stepped up to ship the iPhone, they would switch without hesitation.

KDDI, under its new CEO Takashi Tanaka, has recovered some of its lost fighting spirit. They introduced Skype preinstalled in all their phones; and in August they were the first to introduce Windows Phone in Japan. Now, with the iPhone 5, probably a lot of the young people who moved to Softbank will come back to their old provider.

Meanwhile, Masayoshi Son (Softbank CEO) announced in the next 2 years they are planning to invest 2,000 billion yen in order to improve their infrastructures. DoCoMo is pushing hard with their new technology LTE (also known as “Super 3G” or “3.9G”) under the Xi brand, which allows smartphone users to enjoy a a bigger volume of data and more speed. For the time being it’s only available at the center of Tokyo, Nagano and Osaka. Probably the social games devices (Sony Xperia PLAY, PS Vita and others) will help to the development of this new system.

Sources: Mainichi Shimbun [J], NTT DoCoMo

Konami Links Social Game And Arcade Machine

This is something I was expecting to read.

Konami has launched an arcade machine linked with one of its social games [JP]. The arcade game it’s called Baseball Heroes 2011 Shine Star [JP], and it’s complemented with the social game Professional Baseball Dream Nine (which have about 1 million users at GREE). There is no so much details about how the connection works, but probably it will be possible to get exclusive virtual items and other elements to exchange for cards and points. The integration will take place next October 12th.

I’m a passionate of arcade games; one of the main issues of this sector is how to innovate. Memory cards, card games, connection to the internet are some of the last iterations, for sure integration with social games is the next one. I hope other developers (like Sega or Bandai Namco) can continue on this way with some of their big hits.

Via: Serkan Toto

[TGS2011] BDNA Officially Presented

Today took place the official presentation of the new social games company BDNA, a joint venture between Bandai Namco (75%) and DeNA (25%). As they announced in the previous report, the capital of the company will be 100M yen (1.3M$), starting operations next October 1st.

Shin Unozawa, COO & Vice President of Bandai Namco Holdings, will be the CEO of the new company. BDNA will be a consolidated subsidiary of Bandai Namco Holdings.

Isao Moriyasu, DeNA CEO (left), and Shin Unozawa (right) made the announcement. The name from the new company, BDNA, came from the acronyms of Bandai (BD), Namco (NA) and DeNA (DNA).

They shown the new logo as well:

Bandai Namco has the contents and the users, but they don’t have the operational know-how for monetize them as DeNA/Mobage has. DeNA’s objective is going global: they are expecting social games will reach soon the same quality as arcades and consumer games, so more and more people will use them.

Bandai Namco and DeNA collaborated before for developing Gundam Royale, a huge success with more than 3M users. Inside BDNA they plan to develop games from Macross series, Gundam series and Tamagotchi series.