Insight - bringing a Japanese sensibility to the European market

Insight - bringing a Japanese sensibility to the European market

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 Posted by Andy McCarron
Mitsuya Fujimoto from Ganapati Malta has a fresh approach for western operators

Ganapati Malta was established just last year with the aim of supplying the online gaming market with titles based on Japanese game logic and design. Given the news at the very end of last year with regard to casinos being legalised in Japan, the company has timing on its side, albeit in the arena of online not offline.

Mitsuya Fujimoto, chief executive of Ganapati Malta, suggests the media focus on potential Japanese IR-style casinos will further “catapult” Japanese-inflected content further into the gaming mainstream. Here TotallyGaming.com talks to him about his plans.

Totally Gaming: Is there something specifically about the manner in which the Japanese enjoy gambling and entertainment more broadly that you think has potential to appeal to wider consumer bases?

Mitsuya Fujimoto: Gambling is deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture, and is seen as a form of entertainment rather than a route to untold riches. The Japanese entertainment industry is one of the largest and most innovative in the world, and is internationally recognised and celebrated. By combining the two – entertainment and gambling – we are able to create slots, and other products like fighting, social and instant-win games, as well as themes that are unique, exciting, and authentic to the Japanese culture. And due to the renewed interest in the country, it makes for a widely popular mix.

TG: Is there a connection between Japanese-style gaming and the video gaming world?

MF: Japan has long been at the forefront of video game development, and is home to pioneers such as Nintendo and Sega. These guys were the beating heart of the industry’s golden era, and paved the way for the developers dominating the market today. In terms of a particular connection, I think it’s Japan’s propensity for gaming and entertainment, and the way the country promotes technology. Prior to producing video games, the likes of Nintendo and Sega built arcade machines, and their first video games were iterations of these products. While the games have moved on a long way since then, they still contain the same DNA as the first titles to hit the market back in the early ‘70s.   

TG: How much do your games utilise the tropes from Manga and Anime?

MF: Quite a lot, actually. We wanted our games to be instantly recognisable as being a Japanese product, and using the styles and cues from manga and anime have proved to be a really effective way of doing this. To achieve these stunning visuals and graphics we have been working closely with creatives and pioneering designers from studios in Japan and Hollywood. Ganapati has the backing of the Japanese government as they share our ambitions to promote the country’s culture all over the world. This means we have to abide by strict authentication protocols which causes some headaches but ensures our games are on point and showcase Japan in the best possible way.

TG: Do you think the online casino landscape needs new content and ideas to stop it becoming too stale and full of ‘me-too’ content?

MF: Absolutely. Scroll through the game lobbies of all the top operators and when it comes to content there is next to no differentiation. We believe by looking to Japanese culture, which is so deep and rich and varied, we can produce a large portfolio of games that are individual and unique, and stand out from the crowd. We also use Japanese technology to ensure the mechanics and flow of the game are authentic, another point of difference. There is a need to breathe life back into the sector, and here at Ganapati we believe our themes, characters, and gameplay do just that.

TG: How has the reaction been to your content among western operators that you have been speaking to?

MF: It has been great so far. Operators are attracted to the design and style of our games, and how they offer their players something new. We are a very young company still, but already we have been in discussions with a number of tier one operators about integrating our titles into their portfolios throughout the year, so we are gearing up for a busy few months ahead. And as our production line shifts up a gear and begins to fire on all cylinders, we will have a large and varied content portfolio to share with our operator partners. It’s going to be a transformative 12 months for Ganapati and the firms we work with, and we are excited about the opportunity to showcase the best of Japanese culture through our games. 

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