ICE: Why the west should turn to Japan for gaming innovation

ICE: Why the west should turn to Japan for gaming innovation

Thursday, February 4, 2016 Totally Gaming

Japanese developers have set their sights on making an impact with ‘freemium’ games that are ready-made to be converted into paid-for online and mobile casino games, attendees at ICE Totally Gaming heard today (Thursday).

Gaming is currently not legal in Japan, leaving the country’s developers to create free-to-play games for Japanese residents whilst looking at opportunities in the pay-to-play markets further afield.

“Japan has a long history of online games without payout and a long history of distribution to the world,” Yutaka Kounoe, Head of Product at Ganapati, said at the ExCel in London in a seminar dedicated to the Japanese market.

“There’s a lot of competition in Japan in terms of smartphone freemium games, and the big games can make Y5bn per month.

“I think there’s room for something different to the online gambling and no-payout games – a fusion of the two. It will be different from place to place and there will be different regulations, so there will be some trial and error.

“It’s very competitive to get to the top-ranking slots with games with no payout. That’s why Japanese developers are looking for the next thing that will differentiate them.”

Kounoe noted the example of some US developers who create games that are free-to-play in some states whilst allowing payouts in other states where iGaming is regulated.

He also added that western developers could learn something from Japanese developers’ approach to attracting players.

“Japanese developers know how to get players hooked,” he added. “That’s something that maybe isn’t as prevalent in the western gaming world. Players don’t seem to stay for very long on the same game.

“It seems that western games that are popular are simple games of chance and slot games, but we are interested in creating a new market.”

Mitsuya Fujimoto, Director of International Online Gaming at Ganapati, said that Japan was ready-made to serve as a breeding ground for mobile and online games of the future.

“We have a large gaming market already in Japan with the technology there to support it,” he said.

“We see that our games can penetrate international markets.”


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