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PopCap partners with Taito to launch social games hub Pop Tower in Japan

Packaging play

PopCap partners with Taito to launch social games hub Pop Tower in Japan
Given the amount of money currently flowing into mobile social gaming in Japan – DeNA being the most notable example – PopCap's decision to target the market needs little explanation.

Of more interest, however, is its plan to do so.

Rather than simply adding a Japanese theme to its existing releases, PopCap has decided to partner with Taito, which is wholly-owned by Square Enix, to launch a social hub, pooling together its titles into one metagame.

Social stratagem
Pop Tower is designed to appeal to the whole market, with PopCap games such as Bejeweled, Chuzzle and Zuma tied together in one experience.

Players will also be able to interact with each other – the social elements of Pop Tower layered throughout - and buy in-game virtual goods and premium content.

"Social games on mobile devices looks set to dominate gaming worldwide and Japan is already ahead of the curve," said PopCap's VP for the Asia/Pacific region, James Gwertzman.

"PopCap is about identifying the curve and getting ahead of it. It's not about being 'trendy' or 'first'; it's about being the best; taking the talent and time to create something genuinely innovative.

"The Japanese game market is the second largest in the world, but historically, few Western companies have succeeded here."

Big in Japan

Developed by Taito under the supervision of PopCap’s Tokyo office, Pop Tower is due to launch in early 2011 on GREE, a leading Japanese social network.

As such, PopCap is banking on Taito's knowledge of the Japanese market to give it the edge, with the publisher hinting that a successful run in Japan could result in Pop Tower rolling out in the US and Europe.

"PopCap believes the way to succeed globally is to think and act locally," Gwertzman concluded.

"We've set up a local team in Japan, and are very excited to collaborate with Taito, one of the most dynamic Japanese companies in the social mobile space today.

"Our ambition for Pop Tower is to bring the best of PopCap to Japanese customers; and hopefully make some discoveries about the mobile social space that we can then share with gamers internationally."

Asian assault
Pop Tower is just the latest move in Asia PopCap has made in recent months.

In August, the publisher signed a strategic partnership with Chinese social network RenRen, with a deal to export its first online multiplayer game service, PopCap World to Korea via NCsoft signed in September.

[source: PopCap]

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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