With new investment fund, GREE hopes to secure top developers



Gaming giant GREE (TYO:3632) has just announced a new $10 million fund targeting high quality game developers. As many of you may know, the first recipient of this fund, San Francisco-based MunkyFun, was announced in December. But today GREE is disclosing more details about the size of the fund, as well as their criteria for investment.

I spoke with Jim Ying, who is the VP of publishing and partners and GREE International, and he pointed out that even though the company has a high quality internal studio system, they wanted to figure out a way to work with more standout external developers:

We’re hopeful that we can hit the next blockbuster, and for our fund, that’s what we’re banking on. We’re not going to be looking at the long tail of developers, but rather the focus is on talent and developers with the potential to make a top 25 game.

What’s in store for developers?

With each investment planned to be of $1 million or more, GREE explains that this fund will provide more than just money. In addition the company plans to share access to its teams and tools with frequent calls and on-site visits, most directly with the San Fransisco team initially. There will also be a portion of this fund set aside for marketing as well, which Jim explains could be the biggest impediment for game developers looking for the next big hit in the US market in particular:

In western markets that’s the biggest challenge, I’d say. Developers can build a great game but if they can’t expose it to players eyeballs there’s not going to be the support and the revenue generation that the game deserves.

While GREE relies heavily on expensive advertising methods like television in its home market of Japan, Jim points out that the US and most Western markets have not yet matured to that level. So far most of the advertising in the US is still on a CPI basis, and in terms of marketing dollars for this fund, that’s what the company is referring to.

Eyes South

GREE has already made some inroads in South America with tie-ups with Brazil-based Vostu and Columbia’s Brainz. And this new fund focuses attention towards the region too, considering applicants not just from North America, but from South America. Jim adds, “There’s really a lot of creative talent down there. We want to make sure we capture the really talented developers.”

Moving forward in 2013, GREE is pinning high hopes on developers MunkyFun as well as Vancouver based IUGO. So it will be interesting to watch if they — along with any other partners GREE brings on board — can deliver the hit game that they are hoping for this year. Stay tuned!