serkan AT kantan-games.co.jp

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After The GREE Deal: Yahoo Japan Strengthens Existing Partnership With DeNA [Social Games]

This is getting weird: just 24 hours after entering a new partnership with GREE, Yahoo Japan announced today that it’s ready to strengthen the existing partnership with GREE’s arch enemy, Mobage operator DeNA.

This “double play” (as Pocketgamer puts it) is not only a great example of Japanese-style corporate politics but also testament to Yahoo Japan’s power in this country.

In 2010, Japan’s biggest website and largest online company launched Yahoo Mobage, a PC-only social gaming platform with DeNA. The service is one part of the deal.

It was announced today that Yahoo Mobage now boasts 9 million users, 2 million more than in March this year. Not a sensational number, but reason enough to also announce that the two partners will “continue their collaboration for Yahoo! Mobage, including joint development of PC games”.

The second part of the deal is to establish a new business involving smartphones and tablets, which rapidly spread in Japan at the moment.

DeNA explains:

Through strengthening their alliance, DeNA and Yahoo! JAPAN will expand the range of their collaboration from PCs to smartphones and tablets, thereby responding to the rapid spread of smart devices in Japan. In addition, the companies plan to interconnect user IDs and loyalty point systems of their respective services on smartphones to explore further opportunities.

These two sentences are not only extremely vague (no details or dates), they are essentially what the whole release is about: Yahoo Japan confirmed to continue doing business with DeNA over Yahoo Mobage at the GREE press conference yesterday already.

It’s also clear that the Yahoo Japan <-> GREE deal goes much deeper, judging by the text of the press releases and the fact that the deal yesterday was announced at a press conference while the DeNA deal wasn’t.

I am wondering if Yahoo Japan will now cooperate with Mixi, too (a tie-up with LINE is blocked through the Kakao Talk deal). I have always been intrigued by the idea that Yahoo Japan, which failed with all their efforts in social so far, could buy Mixi and integrate it into its own service.

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.