Social Network Gaming in China and Japan


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Half of a GDC 2011 lecture on essential monetization strategies for any social game company looking to grow outside of North America.

My presentation focused on how the Social Network wars are effectively over, and Facebook is the clear victor - except in Asia, where local social networks are still putting up a fight. This is especially true in Japan and China where large audiences (400M+ users on QQ Zone in China) and large ARPUs (>10x Facebook on Mobage in Japan) make local networks unusually attractive. This presentation looked at the social networks in Asia that matter, describe how they are different from Facebook, rate their policies and openness to third parties, and deliver an in-depth analysis of the top games on each network and how they differ from comparable games on Facebook.

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  • Social wars are over… facebook clearly the global SNSIf you’re a developer, just build for Facebook, right?
  • Except that there are still some big pockets of Asia where Facebook is not yet the dominant network.
  • Look at recent growth in Asia…Clearly #1 in Taiwan, Indonesia, Philippines, etc.But what’s going on in Japan and China?
  • Looking at growth is even more interesting – look how fast FB is growing in Korea, India, Thailand, etc. But not really at all in China or Japan. So what’s going on there?
  • Well, in China FB is blocked for most usersGreat Chinese FirewallSo that’s giving other networks an opportunity to grow
  • This is all you need to remember about social networks in China.
  • This is older data but it gives you a sense of the key players.
  • Because viral channels are limited, promotion through the app directory and encouraging friends to invite other friends are especially important channels.
  • Here’s an example of a leading SNS game in China.
  • Here is all you need to know about SNS games in Japan.
  • Gree and DeNA are the two leading mobile social networks.
  • Here’s a sample screenshot from our localized Bejeweled Blitz game running on RenRen in China – this was more of an experiment for us, not a major focus.
  • Social Network Gaming in China and Japan

    1. Social Games in Asia(aka Where Facebook is Not Yet King)<br />James Gwertzman<br />VP Asia/Pacific<br /><br />
    2. Facebook Usage(as % of population)<br />(source:; visualized with OpenHeatMap)<br />
    3. Korea<br />Japan<br />China<br />Taiwan<br />India<br />Philippines<br />Thailand<br />Vietnam<br />Malaysia<br />Indonesia<br />Facebook Usage(as % of population)<br />(source:; visualized with OpenHeatMap)<br />Australia<br />
    4. Korea<br />India<br />Thailand<br />Facebook Growth(2010 vs. 2009)<br />(source:; visualized with OpenHeatMap)<br />
    5. China Market Overview<br />Many competing platforms<br />High DAU; Low ARPU<br />Heavily regulated<br />(esp. for foreign companies)<br />Predominately PC focused<br />
    6. China SNS market<br />QZone<br /><br />Sina Space<br /><br /><br />Sohu<br /><br /> (mobile)<br /><br />Other<br />
    7. User behaviors<br />China’s platforms<br />Facebook<br />Stealing<br />Cooperating<br />
    8. Art style<br />China<br />Facebook<br />
    9. Viral feeds<br />QZone<br />No app feeds<br />RenRen<br />App Feeds<br />App Invites<br />
    10. App Discovery<br />QZone<br />RenRen<br />App Directory<br />Ads<br />App Directory<br />Banner Ads<br />
    11. Platform currency<br />QZone<br />QB<br />RenRen<br />RenRen Beans<br />
    12. Happy Tower“Farmville meets Cake Mania”<br />Manage a shop<br />Service your customers<br />Steal from your friends<br />DAU: 15M<br />ARPU: $.005 / DAU<br />Monthly revenue: $2.5M<br />
    13. Core Mechanic<br />1.Rent a floor to open a shop<br />2.Serve guests and get coins<br />3.Spend coins to upgrade and expand<br />4.Steal coins and guests from friends<br />5.Finish daily tasks for bonus rewards<br />(1)<br />(4)<br />(2)<br />(5)<br />
    14. Business Model<br />Buy items to:<br />Attract more customers<br />Shorten service time<br />Improve customer satisfaction<br />
    15. Viral Growth<br />Friend invites<br />
    16. Fantasy Seabed<br />
    17. Business model<br />Buy items to:<br />Shorten growth time<br />Extend harvest time<br />Buy special fish<br />
    18. Viral Growth<br />Friend Invites<br />
    19. Little War<br />Grow, decorate village<br />Make war on others<br />Build magic powers<br />Prank friends<br />
    20. Business Model<br />Buy:<br />Building materials<br />Magic energy<br />Special decorations<br />Shorten growth time<br />
    21. Viral Growth<br />Friend invites<br />Form feeds<br />
    22. Japan Market Overview<br />Mobile Phone (“Gala-kei”) Implementations<br />High (US$2-$3) ARPU<br />Limited social features:<br />activity feeds, messaging, avatars<br />
    23. GREE vs DENA : Feature Phone<br />As of Feb 7, 2011<br />As of Feb 11, 2011<br />1<br />Dragon Collection<br />Kaitou Royale<br />2<br />100 Mannin No Sangokushi<br />NouenHokkorina<br />3<br />Omiseyasan<br />Kaizoku Treasure<br />4<br />Love&Job! Otona No Jijyou<br />Hoshitsuku<br />5<br />Shirotsuku<br />El Ark<br />More competitive games<br />Top 5, all from DeNA / 8 DeNA titles in Top 10<br />More like Nintendo<br />More collaborative games<br />Few titles from GREE<br />Titles related to “love” and “boy” are popular<br />More like Sony Computer Entertainment<br />
    24. Kaitou Royale<br />Dragon Collection<br />“Mafia Wars” style RPG<br />“Mafia Wars” not popular in Japan<br />Released as “Bandit Nation” in US; not especially successful<br />Card collection and battle game<br />Popular with women as men<br />
    25. 100 Mannin no sangokushi<br />NouenHokkorina<br />Farming game<br />“Strategy RPG” game<br />Reunify ancient China<br />Simple battle mechanics; no real fight interaction<br />
    26. Kaizoku Treasure<br />Omiseyasan<br />Seafaring Pirates<br />Ship Battles<br />Treasure hunting<br />Shopkeeper game<br />Visit friends’ shops, etc<br />
    27. Hoshitsuku<br />Love & Job!Otona no jijyou<br />Life drama game<br />Main character works in nail salon<br />At the turning point of your life, choose between love and job!<br />Pay per-episode model<br />Planet-building game<br />Develop the culture on your planet<br />Spend energy to go to other players’ planets and find items<br />Use found items to boost your culture<br />
    28. GREE vs DENA : SMARTPHONE<br />In service now<br />Flash emulation<br />Original web browser<br />Native apps for Gree API<br />To be launched on April Using NG moco’s engine<br />“ngCore”, which is Android-iPhone cross-platform capable<br />Native App<br />calls GREE API<br />Web based Flash Emulator<br />
    29. GREE vs DENA : PC SOCIAL<br />Focusing on smartphone, not PC<br />Partnering with Yahoo (Yabage) to go after PC<br />
    30. App Discovery & Virality<br />Discovery through promotion or charts(new, top selling, recommended) <br />Virality limited to activity feeds & messaging<br />Low click-through on game-related invites (25%)<br />
    31. Q4 2010 Mobile & PC trends<br />Minutes spent<br />Reach rate<br />Average PV<br />Mobile<br />mixi mobile<br />mobage<br />Minutes spent<br />Reach rate<br />Average PV<br />Ameba mobile<br />SNS market in Japan<br />PC<br />Yabage<br />Ameba pigg<br />Hangame<br />Q42010<br />
    32. Q42010 ARPU<br />Item ARPU<br />Ad ARPU<br />Mobage<br />(Unit: JPY)<br />SNS market in Japan<br />Q42010<br />
    33. Western Companies Competing in Asia<br />Zynga<br />China: purchased Beijing social game studio (XPD); developing primarily for Facebook<br />Japan: $150M Softbank investment,; bought 120 people studio (Unoh); launched Farmville on Mixi platform (PC); working on mobile titles<br />Crowdstar<br />Partnership with Drecom in Japan to launch social titles on mobile<br />EA<br />Growing Playfish Beijing studio; opening iPhone studio in Beijing; planning to enter China market<br />PopCap<br />Built 80 person Shanghai studio; partnering in Japan, Korea, China<br />Announced social-mobile “PopTower” project for Japan<br />
    34. Predictions…<br /><$100 Android handsets<br />Huge competition on social/mobile in China<br />Facebook will partner to enter China<br />
    35. Questions?<br />