Interview

GREE aiming for 10% of sales to come outside of Japan

GREE aiming for 10% of sales to come outside of Japan
With the amount of effort GREE is making to strengthen its hand in the west, you'd be forgiven for thinking its operations back in Japan were somehow in trouble.

In fact, tapping away on Pocket Gamer's calculator reveals that the $16.87 million in revenue GREE has taken from its North American adventures during the last quarter most likely represent less than 5 percent of its total sales for the same period.

Japan remains the firm's biggest cash cow, by some margin.

According to international CEO Naoki Aoyagi, however, slowly but surely the firm is looking for a larger and larger share of its revenues to come from North America and Europe – a move highlighted by GREE's decision to set up a studio in London.

We caught up with Aoyagi for a bit of added insight on GREE's social gaming gameplan.

Pocket Gamer: You announced revenues of around $16.87 million for the North American market during Q2. That's probably less than five percent of the company's total global revenues for an average quarter. Is this what you were expecting at this stage in the company's life?

Naoki Aoyagi: Although it was less than five percent of gross revenues, we are seeing our games perform very well in the North American market, and have an exciting upcoming pipeline of new games.

As far as future projections, we are looking to see 10 percent of sales come from the global market - outside of Japan - for the next fiscal year.

Overall, we are very happy with what our local teams have done so far and the recent North American results and are incredibly excited for all the new things to come.

Is this progress a sign for you that the strategy of setting up local studios in San Francisco and Vancouver is paying off?

Being in San Francisco and creating a team of highly talented local individuals has allowed us to understand our player and developers' needs, first-hand.

The growth that we've seen just in this past quarter alone is a sign that we are headed in the right direction and motivates us to continue to create robust, high-quality gaming experiences.

Our Vancouver office is still new and while we also see it being successful, our focus right now is to hire the best local talent that will help us achieve these goals.

You paid out $210 million for Funzio. How long before that purchase has effectively paid for itself?

We are already incredibly happy with the success that our joint studios have had.

With four of our games ranking in the top charts and the positive synergy we have seen between GREE and Funzio, we feel the acquisition is already off to a great start.

What do you make of your rival DeNA's efforts to focus instead on bringing Asian-specific content to the west? They've had particular success with Rage of Bahamut, for instance.

We are really happy with the success Rage of Bahamut has seen in this market and admire what its developer, Cygames, has done.

At GREE, in addition to testing content from Japan, our main goal is to create high-quality games with a local studio that truly understands the western markets, so it's great to see games like these do well here.

In fact, in March of this year, we released Zombie Jombie - a card-battle game created by our local US studio, based on highly popular Japanese mechanics.



As one of the first companies to develop card-battle games, GREE has seen tremendous success and we will continue to create robust gaming experiences with the card-battle theme.

What kind of business are the North American studios' games doing in other western territories such as Europe, and are you looking for your new London studio to enjoy similar success in North America?

Our new London studio is our first move into the European market, however, we hope that these games will also be enjoyed by players throughout the world on our seamless and global GREE Platform - now in beta.

All of our titles have great fan bases both here and in Europe and we hope to see the same succes with the titles developed in the London studio.
Thanks to Naoki for his time.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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