GREE talks up OpenFeint revamp: gamers want deeper social experiences says Jori Pearsall

Enhanced games to roll out later in September

GREE talks up OpenFeint revamp: gamers want deeper social experiences says Jori Pearsall
This week, Japanese social mobile gaming outfit GREE made its first appearance at the Tokyo Game Show, boasting a massive booth

Of course, as a company with an annual turnover of $794 million, it's got cash to splash; and that's what it's being doing in recent months as it looks to expand its Japanese feature phone platform into a global smartphone platform. 

One key element in that strategy was the acquisition of US mobile social gaming network OpenFeint in April for $104 million.

It's the most popular open platform, used in 6,800 iOS and Android games and with 23,862 registered developers.

And expansion remains a focus, with the company now hiring 10 people every month into its San Francisco-suburb Burlingame offices. It's expected the company will move to a more central location soon.

Slowly, surely

Still, according to senior product manager Jori Pearsall, GREE has been taking its time getting established in the US.

"In Japan, the population is much more comfortable with mobile payments. Mobile web has been around since the early 2000s," Pearsall explains.

"Secondly, mobile social games in Japan are the norm, but here [in America] they are still new."

Deeper and down

But that's also an opportunity for the company. Pearsall says he thinks gamers are craving for a deeper social experiences, as the early success of EA's Origin platform, with 39 million installs, demonstrates.

For that reason, GREE plans to turn OpenFeint into a more serious platform.

"We want you to engage with a friend in a meaningful way, fully implementing the social experience into the gaming experience," Pearsall says. "Today, it's more of an add on."

The results of the new-and-improved OpenFeint games are expected to be revealed later in September with both firstparty and thirdparty titles hooking into the features.

It's a move that folds nicely into OpenFeint senior VP of product Ethan Fasset's recent comments that it wanted to become "the Facebook of social gaming".

Damon Brown has been speaking the mobile game gospel since 2003 for Playboy, New York Post, and many other outlets. Damon writes books
when he isn't busy gaming or Twittering. His most popular book is Porn & Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture.