B Dash Panel: The next stage in social games



This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013.

On day two of B Dash Camp 2013 in Fukuoka, we had a chance to hear from panel of high profile speakers from the social gaming space. Participating speakers included:

  • Naoki Aoyagi, SVP, global operations, GREE Inc.
  • Kenji Kobayashi, the chief game strategy officer, member of the board, DeNA Co. Ltd.
  • Andrew Sheppard, president, Kabam Game Studios
  • Takeshi Sato, director and general manager, platform business division, Mobcast
  • Hironao Kunimitsu, founder and CEO, Gumi Inc.

The following are our preliminary live notes from the session. Much of the talk ended up being surprisinly reflective, but there were some notes where speakers looked ahead to the future.

14:28 – Andrew Sheppard says Kabam has 600 employees, 7 offices, been in business three years. Last year they had the top grossing iOS app, top gorrsing iOS game in 50 countries. They were a top 10 mobile gamng comaoaany, with 11 million users. They have $55M in the bank, so doing well!

14:29 – Andrews says that North Amercian is largely an iOS market, and that Asia and Europe are more and more Android. But what’s exciting is that gaming is the rare content on mobile that indexes high in terms of reach, engagement, and monetization.

14:31 – Kabam’s game Kings of Camelot was a top 5 grossing worldwide game in 2012, at number 4.

14:32 – Andrew reminds us of their recent announcement of a $50M fund for developers. Apologizes for the reminder with a smile.

14:33 – Mobcast’s Sato: The focus on sports games, now open to foreign partners. From yesterday they opened their development partner site. They also have ‘Mobcast Girls’ for promotion.

14:35 – Both Aoyagi of GREE and Kobayashi of DeNA say they are doing well, but things could be better. Kobayashi sounds slightly more optimistic in tone than Aoyagi.

14:36 – Aoyagi: In terms of sales growth the US shows the best performance, so I’m based there. But sometimes my boss calls for me to help out on Tokyo projects. […] So yes, I’m back here quite a bit. Some people create rumors that I’m here in Japan, but there are not many doing well here besides Gungho. If you look at the top titles from makers like Supercell, they’re in the US. When you think about revenue and profit, the US is taking off finally. I think in Japan there was a peak of funding about two years ago […] but I think right now its kind of declining or shrinking.

14:37 – Kobayashi: Basically I’m supervising on a global level, especially on smartphones. Before it was about execution, but now its more about which fields you compete it.

14:39 – Now speaking about Puzzle & Dragons: Andrew says he’s played a bit, says it has not succeed in US yet. Is a very smart game. Because of the mechanic its great for Asian markets, almost like calligraphy. But Americans are slow and not very smart, so maybe it’s difficult (jokingly).

14:41 – Sato: They have TV commercials and that adds to their users. They did all the basics well, and that’s why they have a hit.

14:42 – Kobayashi: The quality when they started was so high. When they started the commercials it was around mid October, and after that it was a really significant increase, and word of mouth and influences really helped. I think they had the right timing.

14:46 – Kobayashi on what’s next? In different countries, different things work. So you can really make whatever you want. But quality is very important. And if you just try to emulate Puzzle & Dragon’s then you will fail.

14:49 – Aoyagi says that the tablet market is something huge, and tablet first is a phrase we’re hearing. If you’re targeting hardcore gamers, the tablet is something you need to look at, especially in the US market. Sato, as you might expect, says they think sports have potential, sand notes the world cup might result in popular soccer games next year.

14:54 – Andrew says he joined when Kabam created KoC, he was very impressed by their CEO, who he describes as a young person but an ‘old soul’. Right from the beginning he put much trust in him, and that’s why he enjoys his job.

14:56 – Sato mentions that he had very good chemistry with his president as well.

15:03 – Andrew notes they have opened an office in Korea to being their Asia push, and they are very exciting about this.

15:04 – I want to focus on foreign markets, and when we listed I was wondering about where we should head. We have the world cup next year, and our president wants to have a global approach, and maybe we can have some kind of global competition among users, and I think that will be intriguing.

15:05 – Kobayashi: foreign markets are really growing so we want to follow and exceed the trend.

15:06 – Aoyagi: Jokes that they plan to acquire Gumi in the future. Says they want to hit good results abroad, thinks that in the past it has been one hit that really changes the world, and he thinks in the future it will also be a sort of trigger like this.