serkan AT kantan-games.co.jp

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Q: Are GREE’s Japanese Games Successful In The US So Far? A: Not At All. [Social Games]

I summarized my personal prediction on both GREE‘s and DeNA‘s chances of becoming the leading platform providers for mobile social games in the US (and globally) back in March.

I was actually pessimistic in September 2011 already. In fact, I was pessimistic since I first started thinking about it.

I can only stress that I hope I will be proven wrong eventually: after all, Japanese mobile and social games are my main area of business. I want to see both DeNA and GREE succeed. I think these are great companies, and it would be in my own best interest to see them succeed outside this country.

But I can say with confidence I am too honest to keep my thoughts to myself and paint a rosy picture just to get consulting gigs (I mean in general: consulting to GREE and DeNA has always been absolutely out of the question for me anyway for a number of reasons).

After flattering myself, here is a look at the status quo of GREE’s plan to bring their platform and games to the US (the first and certainly most important target market outside Japan).

On the platform side, GREE started their offering in English in May this year. Personally, I was disappointed by it for a few reasons, even when taking into account the beta moniker.

But that may just be me, and all of the above is pretty subjective. The good thing is that Apple and Google allow everybody to look at the games themselves in a quantitative way (it’s harder in Japan where the browser is still king for social game distribution).

To keep things simple (and as concise as possible), I focus on the performance of  GREE’s games in the App Store in the US only, using analytics platform App Annie.

I believe this is fair, as

  • GREE’s global platform started on both iOS and Android at the same time
  • 10 weeks have passed since launch
  • all of GREE’s games outside Japan are offered as apps (not mainly through the browser, as in Japan)

So how do things look at this point?

In one word: bad.

According to App Annie, GREE, Inc. published 92 apps in the App Store so far (list). Taking out the Japanese apps, GREE currently offers 7 apps in English in the US App Store (some games are only available in Canada, for example, and I am not counting Funzio’s titles).

This is what the US App Store shows for GREE, Inc.:

Here’s how they performed so far:

Game 1: Driland / Tanken Doliland in Japan (initial release in the US: June 1, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of free apps in the US App Store so far:
#499 (reached on June 15, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of top grossing apps:
– (the game never made it into the ranking/top 1,000)

Game 2: Pirates Age (initial release: May 15, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of free apps in the US App Store so far:

highest position in the ranking of top grossing apps:

Game 3: Clinoppe (initial release: June 28, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of free apps in the US App Store so far:

highest position in the ranking of top grossing apps:

Game 4: Fishing Star (initial release:  June 12, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of free apps in the US App Store so far:
#816 (on June 24, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of top grossing apps:

Game 5: Cerberus Age (initial release: May 23, 2012) 

highest position in the ranking of free apps in the US App Store so far:

highest position in the ranking of top grossing apps:

To make things complete, here are the games that were mainly developed by GREE in the US  – and pushed by an undisclosed but undoubtedly high amount of marketing dollars (here’s just one pointer).

Game: Alien Family (initial release: March 22, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of free apps in the US App Store so far:
#3 (on March 31, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of top grossing apps:
#94 (on April 1, 2012)

Game: Zombie Jombie (initial release: March 14, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of free apps in the US App Store so far:
#5 (on March 17, 2012)

highest position in the ranking of top grossing apps:
#7 (on May 18, 2012)

I think with 3 of 5 made-in-Japan games not even making it into the top 1,000 in the American App Store, GREE’s numbers so far speak for themselves. The reaction in the industry in the US to GREE’s initial batch of Japanese games like Driland was disastrous. Worse: a lot of English-language gaming news outlets don’t even bother with GREE’s offering at all.

Now I just hope GREE has a very, very good plan B and that there are some real killer titles in the pipeline for the next months.

Serkan Toto About Serkan Toto
I am the CEO & Founder of Kantan Games, Inc., a Tokyo-based game industry consultancy focused on the Japanese market. Please subscribe to updates on this site via RSS or Email.