Japan’s Mobile Social Gaming Giant GREE Partners With China’s Tencent (QQ)

Big news from Asia’s social gaming world today: Tokyo-based mobile social games juggernaut GREE ($3 billion market cap) just announced it will tie up with China’s biggest web company Tencent ($45 billion market cap), which operates the massive QQ platform.

The plan is to “export” GREE’s social apps to the rapidly growing market for mobile games in China as well as to offer games made in China to GREE’s 22 million Japanese users. The focus of the partnership is on “GREE Platform for Smartphone”, which was announced by the company last year (more info).

Under the agreement, developers following the specifications of the platform will be able to offer games to users of GREE and Tencent. GREE has so far attracted over 200 companies in Japan to join the platform and says that Tencent will help them to localize their games for the Chinese market.

In the official press release, GREE cites a source according to which China had 120 mobile gamers in September last year. To put things into perspective: Japan’s Internet population stands at around 100 million.

GREE CEO Yoshikazu Tanaka announced the move into the Chinese market in summer last year. His company established a US subsidiary just a few days ago and also invested in Singapore-based mobile platform mig33.

For Social App Development: Mixi And CyberAgent Launch Joint Venture

Japan’s social apps boom isn’t ending: Today, two of the country’s biggest web companies, namely Mixi and CyberAgent, announced they will launch a joint venture to produce social apps for mixi, Japan’s biggest social network, on February 1. CyberAgent is best known for its massive Ameba blog platform, Japan’s biggest (12.4 million registered users).

The new venture, which is called Grenge (no website yet), is capitalized at 5 million yen ($606,000) and owned 51% by CyberAgent and 49% by mixi. Grenge is expected to produce apps for Japanese feature phones and smartphones from April this year. By March 2012, the plan is to have deployed a total of eight titles on Mixi.

Grenge is expected to generate $6 million in sales by September this year.

What’s interesting is that with this move, mixi is moving further away from its position as a strict, “neutral” social network/graph provider. Its big rivals in terms of user numbers, mobile gaming networks Mobage-town and GREE, have been doubling as platform and app providers since they opened their sites to third-party developers in 2009/2010.

In 2009, Mixi established the so-called Mixi Fund to invest in startups that provide social apps. Since then, big M has invested in several companies, for example in Tokyo-based social games startup Pikkle ($1.6 million).

Social Application Forum: Made-in-Japan apps for the world

The recession, almost no IPOs, structural shortcomings, not enough hot startups to invest in: The Japanese venture capital industry is in a critical situation. The current state of affairs forces companies that have money to pump into promising ventures to go new ways, and one of these is a joint initiative by a total of eleven companies [JP] from Japan’s Internet sector.

Dubbed Social Application Forum (SAF) [JP], the initiative is led by advertising company Adways [JP] and venture capital firm ngi group. The aim is to invest in startups working on social apps that can be distributed worldwide, for example on Facebook. SAF’s official slogan is “From Japan, to the world”.

In other words, the social application bubble just got bigger. The Nikkei is reporting that the investors are ready to start supporting up to 50 different startups working on those apps within this year. The startups will receive marketing and PR support, technical “infrastructure” and money.

According to the Nikkei, the budget for 2010 is 1 billion yen ($11 million). The 11 investors plan to get together once per month to review business plans the startups handed in and choose which ones to support.

The SAF is obviously aimed at finding the Japanese Zynga, but I have my doubts (for a number of reasons) this framework is the best approach to nurture a globally competitive app provider. But Asiajin is more than happy to cover interesting stuff (if there is any) coming out of this initiative in the future even though I believe the apps will land on Mixi and other Japanese sites.