Why Japan’s top money-making games don’t forget you on Valentine’s Day



It’s a very snowy Valentine’s Day here in Tokyo today, and I expect many of us will be spending the evening indoors with our significant others. If you find yourself alone this evening, however, don’t despair – because your favorite mobile games probably have something special in store for you.

It’s not unusual for game and app developers to hold special Valentine’s Day campaigns. In fact it’s pretty common these days. But some of the most successful campaigns are the ones that prompt you to give some love back. And by love, I obviously mean money.

Two of Japan’s most successful video game publishers both have interesting Valentine’s campaigns currently ongoing, and I’d like to take a quick look at them right now. Let’s start with GungHo Online Entertainment, whose ‘Hearts-a-flutter’ event in Puzzle & Dragons (promo pictured above) began on February 12 and will go on until February 19th. GungHo will be rewarding players with a number of goodies, including:

  • a free magic stone on February 12th–13th, 18th–19th
  • a free Tamadra every day from February 14th–17th (used to awaken new skills in your collected monsters) [1]

What’s smart about this kind of campaign is that it sucks you deeper into the game. You have a chance to level up your existing monsters, and with the free stones you’ll be closer a chance to try the Rare Egg machine (requires five stones), which you normally have to pay for. And maybe it’s no coincidence that GungHo is giving out four magic stones, expecting that users might be willing to pay the extra 100 yen (or $1) for the fifth one, so they can try the Rare Egg machine [2].

GungHo regularly holds holiday campaigns like these for Puzzle & Dragons, most recently with a New Year’s campaign that yielded great results in North America in particular.


Another Japanese company, Line Corporation, is holding a Valentine’s Day promotion in many of its casual games. The company’s ‘Love is Priceless’ event is featured in three games — Line Pop, Line Pokopang, and Line Bubble — running from February 13th until February 15.

For a span of 62 hours, players will have access to free in-game items which usually require payment to use. So much like GungHo’s tactic, Line is hoping to bring you into the item-purchase process, giving you a taste of fun gameplay that they hope you will pay for later on after the event concludes. Both Line and GungHo have been active promoting these and other holiday events on their respective Facebook pages, realizing that its a necessary part of connecting with with global fans.

Like holiday sales in retail stores, such promotions are always a popular way to connect with customers, and they certainly appear to be working for both GungHo and Line. The two companies were among the top app publishers in sales in 2013, with GungHo ranking number one, and Line not too far behind at number six.

As in app purchases become more and more important to app revenue, game publishers in particular should take note of these holiday tactics and capitalize on such opportunities whenever they can.

So what’s your favorite Valentine’s Day game promotion this year? Do feel free to let us know!

  1. Note that I’m playing the North American version of the game, and the promotion may differ in other regions.  ↩

  2. There are other ways to get magic stones in the game, but they do require some time.  ↩