I am an independent consultant and advisor focused on Japan's mobile and social gaming industry. Based in Tokyo, I work with financial institutions and "AAA" startups worldwide. I have been the Japan contributor for US tech blog network TechCrunch since 2008. Also, I am an avid gamer.More »
serkan AT serkantoto.com I Twitter I Google+ I LinkedIn Email Subscription

King Opens Office In Japan, Intensifies Marketing Efforts For Candy Crush

Candy Crush maker King has been testing the waters for a while but now decided it is worth entering Japan’s mobile gaming market with an own office.

The company has set up “King Japan” in Tokyo to take care of the local user base. It’s the 10th King office, next to presences in San Francisco, Seoul, Stockholm, Malmö, Barcelona, Bucharest, Berlin, Malta, and London.

The announcement doesn’t come as a big surprise, given the Japanese market for smartphone games is worth over US$5 billion.

King Japan will be led by Ken Edahiro, the former CMO at mobile social game maker gloops, which became part of Nexon (3659) in 2012. Edahiro holds the title of General Manager of King Japan.

In an interview with CNet Japan, Edahiro says the company only has 3 people at the moment (including himself) but also mentions he looks at hiring more staff, such as a CTO and a game producer.

What’s interesting is that according to Edahiro, such employees would not only take care of localizing King-produced content for Japan but may also be developing original games specifically made for local players in the “mid- or long-term”.

King Japan is located in Tokyo’s Minato ward and doesn’t have an official website at this point.

King Starts Second TV Campaign For Candy Crush In Japan

The announcement was made about a week after King started its second – larger – TV commercial campaign on the Japanese market (click here for details on the first from December 2013).

Since April 15, the following commercials have been airing in heavy rotation on national Japanese TV. Needless to say, they are promoting the Japanese version of Candy Crush:

The spots, which try to mix cool, funny and dark elements (and which are pretty good in my view), feature Junichi Okada (member of Japanese boy band “V6″) and actor Kenichi Endo.

(As I have mentioned earlier on this site, Japan is the only country in the world where mobile games are regularly being advertised on national television.)

And apparently, King also did a great job in using its connections to make sure that the message and tone of these TV commercials are also transported in the premium Candy Crush feature Apple is granting in the Japanese App Store this week.

Here is a screenshot that shows what I mean:

king candy crush japan.jpg-large


Candy Crush is currently at No. 14 in Japan’s top grossing chart on iOS (iPhone) and at No. 13 on Google Play.

Wright Flyer Studios: GREE Sets Up New Studio, Teases Two Games

GREE (3632) yesterday announced the launch of a new studio called “Wright Flyer Studios”, a separate company that was incorporated in Tokyo in February . (Wright Flyer is the name of the world’s first powered aircraft.) The studio is headed by GREE executive Eiji Araki, a member of the core team during GREE’s move to…

Report: Japan’s Smartphone Game Market Worth US$5.4 Billion In 2013, Accounts For Half Of All Games

CyberZ, a subsidiary of Toky0-based Internet conglomerate CyberAgent (4751), released a report on the size of the Japanese market for smartphone games today. According to the report, the domestic market was worth 546.8 billion yen (US$5.4 billion) in 2013, up from roughly US$3 billion in 2012. What’s interesting is that this industry now reached roughly…

Monster Strike: The Story Behind The Game That Made Mixi A Billion Dollar Company (Again)

Mixi (2121), Japan’s once largest social network , is back from the dead. In September 2006, Mixi was the first s0-called Web 2.0 startup ever to go IPO and managed to maintain its status as a large-cap company for years until it stopped innovating and was hit by a flood of competitors: DeNA (2432), GREE (3632), Twitter Japan,…

Report: Nintendo To Finally Go Mobile This Year (But In Its Own Way)

A lot has been written and said about the status quo and future of Nintendo (7974), after the company reported disastrous financial results about two weeks ago: introducing its own tablet, putting a successor to the Wii U on the fast track, buying a smartphone game maker, splitting into multiple business units, and (of course)…

BNDeNA: Joint Venture Between DeNA And Namco Bandai To Be Dissolved In March

BDNA, the joint venture that Mobage operator DeNA (2432) and Namco Bandai (7832) launched in 2011 and that was rebranded to BNDeNA in 2012, is ending on March 31 this year. The news isn’t coming as a big surprise, for a few reasons. First, BNDeNA has released pretty solid games such as Gundam Kingdom and social 3D shooter Macross SP Cross…

Colopl’s Quiz RPG Hits 17 Million Users, 13% Of Japan’s Population

Tokyo-based Colopl (3668), which I recently called “the biggest mobile game maker you never heard of”, is on a roll. Colopl’s market cap currently stands at US$3.4 billion, higher than that of Zynga (ZNGA, US$3.2 billion), DeNA (2432, US$3.1 billion), or GREE (3632, US$2.3 billion). Outside of Japan, Quiz RPG maker Colopl recently made some headlines by partnering with…

King Started Advertising Candy Crush On Japanese TV. Here Is The Result.

Advertising mobile games on television doesn’t sound intuitive at this point in time, given the immaturity of the mobile gaming industry, the now less important position of TV as a marketing channel, high production costs for ads, inability to track effectiveness, problems in attributing user acquisition, and of course the costs of running ads on…