Capcom digital revenues up 39.2 percent year-over-year to $536.1M

Capcom today saw increased revenue and profit in the first nine months of the 2012 fiscal year that ended Dec. 31, 2012, reporting net sales of 72.7 billion yen ($780.5 million), up 44.6 percent from the same term last year. Profit more than doubled, with a 104.9 percent increase from 3.2 billion yen ($34.8 million) the Japanese gaming company made in the same term last year to 6.6 billion yen ($71.3 million) in Q3 2012.Capcom logo

On Capcom’s digital front, the company revealed that cumulative registered social game users in Japan surpassed 7.2 million. Digial standouts for Capcom included Mobage title Minna to Monhan Card Master, which was released last year, continued to maintain steady sales. Resident Evil: Outbreak Survive on GREE’s platform achieved more than two million registered SNS members by steadily gaining new users. Mobile game developer and publisher Beeline’s Smurfs’ Village remained strong, continuing to “record long-term, stable sales,” while Smurf Life, which launched in Dec. 2012, was “off to a good start.”

Capcom’s digital content business, which included console, mobile and social games businesses, recorded 49.7 billion yen ($536.1 million) in revenue, up 39.2 percent year-over-year. Operating income was 7.3 billion yen (78.6 million), up 0.2 percent from the same term last year.

Due to weakened sales of third-person shooter Resident Evil 6 and the delay of action RPG Monster Hunter 4 for Nintendo 3DS to summer 2013, Capcom lowered its forecast for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013. Capcom cut 3.3 billion yen ($39 million) from its estimated profits for the term. The company now estimated 6.5 billion yen ($77 million) in profits for the 2012 fiscal year, down from the original estimate of 9.8 billion yen ($116.1 million), and revenue of 93.5 billion ($1.1 billion), down from 105 billion yen ($1.2 billion).

GREE invests in mobile game developer MunkyFun

Mobile-social gaming powerhouse GREE announced on Dec. 6 that it invested $3 million in independent mobile game studio MunkyFun, a partnership, MunkyFun believes, that aligns with the direction both the companies plan to pursue.MunkyFun GREE investment logos

“MunkyFun is about making fun above all else and connecting people,” said Nick Pavis, CEO and co-founder of MunkyFun. “We see that connecting people through games is where things are going and this is where GREE has made a lot of success in Japan and foreign territories.”

MunkyFun, which was founded in 2008 by a group of former LucasArts developers that worked on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, had developed notable titles including free-to-play iOS title My Horse under the guidance of developer NaturalMotion and FPS Archetype.

“Back in 2008, we decided we wanted to do something a little bit more interesting than ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones’ repeatedly,” Pavis said.

Pavis told Inside Mobile Apps that although the indie developer considered multiple companies to partner with, GREE stood out to MunkyFun the most. The Tokyo-headquartered company is moving toward building more technologically advanced games, he added, which aligns with MunkyFun’s plans as well. GREE, who’ve been in talks with MunkyFun for quite some time, will also bring its expertise in user acquisition, marketing and monetization.

“Another thing that GREE brings to the table for a small developer like ourselves is cash-flow,” Pavis said. “This investment is allowing us to expand in line with the industry. The industry is exploding and there’s just a wealth of opportunity. It’s moving quite fast. It’s good to get an injection of cash to help us expand at the rate that we need to in order to take full advantage of this growth in this industry at this time.”

MunkyFun also plans to expand its team and move its office to a former Ghirardelli Chocolate factory at Jackson Square in San Francisco.

The studio, which has 15 to 20 million total game downloads to date, plans to launch a couple of new games in early Q1 2013 on GREE’s platform.

MunkyFun has been independently and privately funded company up until GREE’s recent investment.

GREE designs RPG for a casual and core audience with Knights & Dragons: Rise of the Dark Prince

GREE’s first game from its minority stake in mobile game developer IUGO Mobile is finally surfacing. The game is Knights & Dragons: Rise of the Dark Prince, a title which Jori Pearsall, GREE lead product manager on Knights and Dragons, calls an “immersive casual RPG” for iOS devices.

“This was our attempt to do something different and make a unique experience that combines the best of a more casual game with some of those more immersive RPG-style elements you usually see in more hardcore games,” Pearsall says.

Set in medieval times, players are tasked with saving a kingdom that’s been ravaged by an evil Dark Prince and his army. Users take control of knights that can be outfitted with armor for fighting baddies through a series of quests. Players can also invite their friends’ knights to play alongside them or compete against their friends in weekly PvP tournaments or in the leaderboards. Along the way, players unlock more knights and collect materials to craft new armor sets to make knights stronger and better looking. There’s an elemental system — fire, water, spirit, air and earth — that adds a layer of strategy to the game by allowing users to equip armor with a particular element to gain an advantage against baddies or monsters equipped with the opposing element.Knights & Dragons: Rise of the Dark Prince screenshot 1

Pearsall said that in GREE’s relatively small beta test, the company saw more than 400,000 PvP battles completed and more than 200,000 users bringing in their friends to help in battles, which he attributed to the addictiveness of challenging friends or cooperatively fighting alongside them.

Knights & Dragons was co-developed by GREE and Vancouver, B.C.-based IUGO, the first of a series of free-to-play mobile games the two companies will collaborate to make, according to the terms of the agreement.

The game monetizes through players purchasing either the premium currency in gems or gold, which is the in-game currency. The premium and in-game currencies can be used to craft armor more quickly, get extra PvP battles, heal knights to progress through quests faster and more.

Knights & Dragons is available starting today for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. Stay tuned to Inside Mobile Apps for a review of the game in the near future.Knights & Dragons: Rise of the Dark Prince screenshot 2

25 people laid off from GREE’s U.S. offices, consolidates existing teams

Mobile-social gaming giant GREE announced a restructuring yesterday that will see part of the platform team moving from San Francisco back to its headquarters in Tokyo, with 25 people losing their jobs in the process, reported TechCrunch. GREE also created two new organizations in an effort to consolidate, which includes a publishing and partnerships team focusing on second and third-party studios and a growth and revenue team focusing on first and second-party games.

In GREE’s Q1 2013 quarterly results, the company’s net profit in Q1 2013 fell 26.3 percent quarter-over-quarter. The Japanese giant’s profit were hamstrung by the high costs of international expansion and the kompu gacha ban by Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency. Kompu gacha is a practice that heavily incentivized the purchase of random virtual goods.

According to TechCrunch, most of the layoffs hit GREE’s social networking platform OpenFeint, which it recently announced it will shut down by Dec. 14. GREE first acquired OpenFeint in April 2011 for $104 million, with the hopes to further break into the U.S. market.

Mobile app news roundup: GREE, Red Bull, iTunes gift cards and more

GREE expands platform partnerships with Vostu, Brainz and more — GREE has signed partnership deals with five more international studios. The company announced this week it has signed up Vostu, Brainz, Sun Dried Games, Pangalore and Vast Studios. Our readers may remember in October GREE announced it had signed deals with Enders Fund, Fathom Interactive, Fifth Column and FreezeTag.

Variable rate iTunes gift cards now available — Apple customers can now decide exactly how much their friends and family are worth to them. The company has introduced new gift cards that can come in denominations ranging from $15 to $500 reports 9to5 Mac. The new cards are already rolling out at major U.S. retailers.

SGN teams with Betable — Social and mobile game developer SGN is the latest company to sign a deal with London-headquartered Betable to bring real-money gambling elements to its mobile titles. The features will only be available in markets where mobile gambling is legal, such as the U.K. SGN expects to roll out the features in the first half of 2013.

iPhone 5, iPad Mini finally headed to China — The latest generation of Apple devices will soon be in the hands of Chinese consumers. The company announced today the iPad Mini and the fourth generation iPad will be available in China on Dec. 7. The iPhone 5 will be available on Dec. 14.

LINE integrates with Facebook — NAVER’s ultra-popular Japanese chat app LINE has started integrating with Facebook. Facebook users can now create LINE accounts using their Facebook credentials according to Dr. Serkan Toto. Users can also invite their Facebook friends to the service.

PlayPhone picks up Red Herring Global 100 award — San Francisco based PlayPhone has won the Red Herring Global Top 100 award in the mobile category. The awards are decided by Red Herring editorial team and honor promising private technology ventures.

Gameloft teams with Red Bull — Gameloft has signed a deal with Red Bull that will see the energy drink maker’s branded cars coming to Gameloft’s racing game GT Racing: Motor Academy. The F1 RB8 (driven by F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel) and the Red Bull editions of the Camaro SS and Hyundai Genesis Coupe will all be available in the next update of the game.

GREE picks up Best Social Games Service Provider award — GREE has picked up a Mobile Entertainment award for Best Social Games Service Provider, beating out the likes of DeNA, PapayaMobile and PlayPhone for the honor. Based on London, the Mobile Entertainment Awards honor excellence in publishing, services and operations.

Blackboard Mobile Apps hit 4.5 million downloads — Blackboard Inc’s line of educational and campus life apps have been downloaded more than 4.5 million times on iOS and Android.

DeNA and Square Enix to release Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade in US, Canada

Mobage network operator DeNA and renowned games developer and publisher Square Enix today announced that the companies will release the hit Japanese game Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade on iOS and Android in the U.S. and Canada. This will mark the first Final Fantasy free-to-play social game to be released in English.

Each player in the game pilots an airship and can form “airborne brigades” with friends to take down powerful bosses, gain experience and acquire skills, all in the signiture style of a Final Fantasy role-playing game.

As. Dr. Serkan Toto recently reported, Final Fantasy Brigade has hit the 3 million user mark in Japan since it launched on Mobage in January, no doubt contributing to DeNA’s record revenues for its Q2 2012.

It’s interesting to note that Square Enix also partnered with DeNA’s primary competitor GREE to publish The Worlds Ends With You and Final Fantasy X GREE in Japan.

DeNA and Square Enix didn’t announce a specific release date but said that the game was coming “soon.” Players who pre-register for the game will be alerted as soon as its released and will also receive a free three-month exclusive in-game card featuring Final Fantasy VII character Cloud.

Brainz brings Vampire Season-Monster Defense to GREE platform

Mobile developer Brainz today announced that it’s bringing its critically-hailed tower defense/strategy game Vampire Season to GREE’s new platform. However, the game for GREE’s platform will be an enhanced version and will carry the title Vampire Season-Monster Defense.

We liked what we saw when Vampire Season first launched, particularly its goofy narrative and high production values. Now, Vampire Season-Monster Defense will feature new graphics and content. Brainz tells us it’s rebuilt all of the game’s 30 levels and also established a new economy that features two different types of currency, coins and sapphires. Coins are earned via the story mode and can be used to purchase lower-end upgrades, while Sapphires are earned by playing against friends in Survival mode and allow users to purchase the best monster upgrades.

The Colombia-based Brainz originally teamed up with 6waves to distribute Vampire Season earlier this year, but the companies parted ways back in October after 6waves underwent another round of layoffs and dismissed everyone working on the game. As a result, Brainz took the game back, rebalanced its difficulty and changed it to a paid title in mid-October. The move proved surprisingly successful, providing higher player retention and average revenue per daily active user.

When asked if Brainz is planning to continue working with GREE, the company’s Head of Games Jairo Nieto won’t say for sure. However, he does note that, “both teams are working hard to bring a lot more value to our players by leveraging their tremendous experience and our creative approach.  I think we coincide philosophically that the next bets in the mobile ecosystem will be titles with high production values and richer story worlds.  In that sense, we certainly hope to continue working with such an amazing partner.”

A definite release date for Vampire Season-Monster Defense hasn’t been revealed yet, but we’re told the game will be released for both the iOS and Android versions of the GREE platform in the next few weeks.

The Inside Network Job Board: Green Dot, Aarki, BrightRoll and more

The Inside Network Job Board is dedicated to providing you with the best social media job opportunities across social and mobile application platforms. Here are this week’s highlights from the Inside Network Job Board, including positions at: Green Dot, Aarki, BrightRoll and more.

Aarki Inc.

BrightRoll

GREE International

Green Dot Corp

King.com

RadiumOne

Relay Network, LLC

Triggit

Jim Ying joins GREE as new VP of Developer Relations and Publishing

Today, GREE announced it hired Jim Ying as its new Vice-President of Developer Relations & Business Development. This new position will see Ying overseeing the company’s Developer Relations team; this includes business development, account management, and heading up GREE’s consulting service for developers on GREE’s new mobile platform.

Ying’s a long-standing member of the video game industry, both in North America and in Asia. Most recently, he was with the social mobile developer and publisher 6waves as the company’s SVP of Publishing until he was phased out during the company’s most recent round of staff cuts. During his time with the company he helped oversee 6waves’ transition from social to mobile games, as well as its expansion into Asian territories.

GREE has been making a concentrated push into North American mobile markets recently, with its upcoming mobile platform about to launch and its high-profile “GREE Loves Indies” competition. The company is appealing to many developers right now because of the massive audience it has access to after it acquired OpenFeint for $104 million in 2011. As for OpenFeint itself, though, GREE caught many developers and users off-guard last week when it announced it would be shutting the service down on December 14.

GREE to shut down OpenFeint on December 14

Mobile-social gaming powerhouse GREE revealed last Friday that it will shut down the servers for OpenFeint, a social networking platform for mobile it acquired last year.OpenFeint logo

Developers were given less than a months notice that the social service would be shutting down on December 14 or slightly later. Basically, developers will have to remove any OpenFeint APIs in their games so there’s “no service disruptions or poor player experience.” All data stored on OpenFeint’s services will be lost if its not migrated. GREE recommends all developers using OpenFeint to migrate to the GREE platform, which the company claims that basic integration takes “less than a week.”

In April 2011, GREE acquired OpenFeint for $104 million. GREE’s competitor DeNA which operates the Mobage mobile-social network currently has some of the top grossing apps including Rage of Bahamut and Blood Brothers.  DeNA recently reported $627 million in revenue for Q2 2012, its highest ever revenues. GREE, on the other hand, released its Q1 2013 earnings that saw revenues drop for a second straight quarter with $466.7 million in net sales.

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