Japanese mobile-social gaming juggernaut GREE recently laid off around 30 employees from its San Francisco office, according to GameIndustry International.
“We have recently aligned GREE’s U.S. studio to focus on creating the next generation of mobile social games,” said Anil Dharni, chief operating officer of GREE, in an official statement. “This shift in focus has been clearly demonstrated by the success and growth of our games. As part of ensuring that we are operating as efficiently as possible, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our work force. The employees leaving today have made great contributions to our success and we wish them all the best.”
In December 2012, GREE restructured its company, letting go 25 people, mostly from GREE’s social networking platform OpenFeint team. GREE announced the closing of OpenFeint a month prior to the layoffs. GREE acquired OpenFeint in April 2011 for $104 million as part of the Japanese company’s efforts to expand into Western markets.
Stay tuned to Inside Mobile Apps for GREE’s Q3 2013 earnings tomorrow.
Japanese mobile-social gaming juggernaut DeNA today reported 52.3 billion yen (approximately $528 million) in revenue for its fourth quarter of 2013, a 22 percent increase year-over-year, while operating profit rose 3 percent from the same quarter of the previous year to 18.2 billion yen ($184 million). For the 2012 fiscal year, the company set a new earnings records with revenues of 202.5 billion yen ($2.04 billion) and 76.8 billion yen ($775 million) in operating profit, up 38 and 28 percent respectively.
“DeNA’s full-year revenues and operating profits increased for the ninth consecutive year, representing growth every year since the company went public,” said Isao Moriyasu, President and CEO of DeNA, in a statement. “We will continue to pursue aggressive growth worldwide for our mobile internet business, especially in the mobile-social games sector.” (more…)
Capcom today reported net sales of 94.1 billion yen ($952.8 million) and 3 billion yen ($30.4 million) in net income for the 2013 fiscal year, which ended March 31, 2013. Compared to the Japanese gaming company’s yearly results in 2012, net income was down in 2013 by 55.8 percent and net sales were up 14.6 percent.
Notable mobile games included Minna to Monhan Card Master, which is distributed on DeNA’s mobile-social gaming network Mobage, continued to show growth, citing the increase in smartphone market penetration as the growth driver. Resident Evil: Outbreak Survive on Japanese mobile-social gaming giant GREE’s platform continuously acquired new users. Both titles “enjoyed membership” eclipsing two million each. Mobile game developer and publisher Beeline’s Smurf’s Village “has securely built stable sales over a long range.”
Capcom’s digital content business, which includes console, mobile and social games businesses, posted revenues of 63.6 billion yen ($644.3 million), a 6.4 percent uptick year-over-year, while operating income fell significantly year-over-year by 45.2 percent to 7.1 billion yen ($71.5 million).
Capcom estimates 97 billion yen ($982.1 million) in net sales and 12 billion yen ($121.5 million) in operating income for the next fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. The company plans to achieve its forecast by directing its development resources to the development of online games (mobile, PC online and downloads for consumer games), which is a growing area, and by launching major titles such as Monster Hunter 4 and Lost Planet 3 focused on the domestic and overseas markets respectively. (more…)
AppySnap is a new mobile app-cum-social game for iOS devices, developed by Chiwawa Ltd. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store and carries in-app purchases, all of which remove ads when acquired.
This actually isn’t the first time AppySnap has appeared on the App Store — it first came out back in 2011 as a “photo scavenger hunt” app that challenged players to complete various missions and earn virtual rewards. After a hiatus the team revamped the app completely and the service is back with a new look but the same photo-centric “gameplay” of its predecessor.
Essentially, AppySnap is an asynchronous social game in which players challenge one another to complete specific missions. Users may challenge any of their friends via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or connections they have made on Appysnap itself, but there is presently no apparent means of challenging a random stranger. This is presumably in an attempt to help prevent abuse of the system, but it would have been nice to have the option, particularly if you are the only person in your circle of friends using the app — there’s no means of actually starting a “game” until one of your friends from the other networks has actually registered for the service and started “playing.”
Tracks is a new iOS app from Tracks Media, Inc. The app has been around for a while, but has recently released a major update to version 2.5, which has also caused it to show up on the App Store front page as a featured item. The app itself is a free download, and does not carry additional in-app purchases.
Tracks is a social photography app designed to allow users to discover and share visual content on a variety of different themes. These “tracks” can be followed, allowing users to easily stay up to date on the latest posts on favorite subjects, and perhaps collaborate with other users on what is effectively a large communal photo album.
Tracks’ main screen allows users to browse through a variety of different available Tracks. If the user has connected their account to Facebook, several Tracks are automatically created according to their relationship status — if they are in a relationship, a Track is created depicting them and their partner, and another track is also created depicting images in which they appear with their friends. Aside from this, the user may browse Tracks from their friends on the service, a “Just for You” Track based on other content they may have followed, along with Trending and Recent feeds. Users may also discover tracks according to their location and broad topic areas, or search for specific content.
Gifstory is a new iOS app from Ultralab Apps. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases.
Animated GIFs, the 256-color silent alternative to genuine video capture, have seen something of a resurgence in popularity in recent years, particularly as social media enthusiasts have embraced services with a self-consciously “retro” aesthetic such as Instagram and its numerous imitators. The inherent technical limitations of GIF files give them a gritty rawness that the high-quality video shot by modern smartphones just doesn’t match — plus the fact that they’re just an image file means that they can be displayed on pretty much any device capable of displaying Web pages; there’s no messing around with codecs or ensuring compatibility with different operating systems — a GIF is a GIF, whatever it’s being viewed on.
The fact that GIFs are once again growing in popularity among the social photo and video sharing community means that there has also been a glut of GIF-making apps in recent months. The latest of these is Gifstory from Ultralab Apps, who was last seen with the “weather forecast meets Instagram” app Ultraweather.
Directr is a new iOS app from the company of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, and carries no additional in-app purchases.
Directr is a social movie-making app that promises to help users make their home movies look more “professional.” It goes about this by providing a series of storyboard templates into which users may insert their own clips, and then the hard work of editing, adding music and titles is taken care of for the user. No knowledge of digital video editing is required, and the end results look surprisingly good — though they do tend to be festooned with the Directr logo, making it abundantly clear that the finished product was not entirely the work of the user’s own abilities.
Using Directr is very simple. Upon creating a new movie, users may either choose to start from a blank storyboard, or use one of the many available templates. Some of these simply include space for clips of a specific length plus a soundtrack, others include licensed content. One notable example includes footage from the movie “Jurassic Park,” into which users may cut their own custom videos that replace the first appearance of the dinosaurs to the main characters. Each storyboard template includes an “inspiration” video that shows an example of how it might be used, and many allow users to include captions or other text. The app also allows users to shoot multiple “takes” of each scene on the storyboard and then pick the best one to incorporate into their finished movie. Users may also import pre-existing video from their device’s photo library rather than shooting “live” if they prefer.
Spontly is a new iOS app from the company of the same name. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases.
Spontly is a location-aware mobile social app that allows users to “check in” to events and then post photos and messages to that event’s dedicated feed. In this way, it can be used both by people at the event to interact with one another and perhaps see who else is present, and for those who missed out to see some pictures and thoughts from the event. It can also be used by event organizers to help promote their event, to post details that attendees might have missed, and also to get some real-time feedback on how the event is going.
Spontly requires a Facebook account to use, which will probably make it unpopular in territories where App Store reviewers have historically been resistant to Facebook-only social apps such as the U.K. The app does not use anything more than the user’s basic information and their birthdate, however, and as with other Facebook apps it is up-front about the permissions it requires. It would, however, perhaps be to the app’s benefit for the developer to provide a non-Facebook option not only for those who do not wish to connect their social presence to unfamiliar apps, but also for those who do not have a Facebook account at all.
Showboatr is a new iOS app from Nyquist Design. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store, with no additional in-app purchases.
Showboatr is a video-centric social network, but rather than simply allowing users to freely share videos, it instead focuses on various “challenges,” many of which are clearly designed to be both amusing and impressive. A typical challenge tasks users with anything from tearing an apple in half to licking a frozen object and getting their tongue stuck, and demands that they prove they at least attempted the challenge with a video. Other users who then watch the video can vote on whether or not they believe the person in the video “nailed” or “failed” the challenge.
The Showboatr app is split into a few distinct components. Users must sign in to the app first of all, either using a proprietary Showboatr account or Facebook, and are then immediately taken to the Challenges page, which is further subdivided into three categories. The “Collections” tab groups together various related challenges such as all the tasks that involve fruit, or scenes inspired by movies, or dance-related challenges; the “Staff Picks” tab includes the favorite challenges of the Showboatr team; and the “Popular” tab displays those challenges that have seen the most activity. In all cases, tapping on a challenge takes you to a page of information about it, where the description can be read, other users’ videos can be viewed and voted on, or the challenge attempted. Users may also challenge specific friends using either Facebook or email — in the former case, the challenge may be issued as a public post if desired.
Deciderr is a new iOS app from Decision Network, Inc. It’s available now as a free download from the App Store with no additional in-app purchases.
Deciderr is a mobile-social network designed to help people make decisions and solicit feedback by allowing them to pose “yes/no” questions to the community. You can also answer questions posed by other users and engage in discussions through the comments.
Deciderr requires an account to use. Initial account setup can be done using Facebook or Twitter, but the user must still provide their desired username, birthdate and bio manually when signing up.
Once into the service proper, the app’s main screen is split into five main components. The “World” tab allows users to browse questions submitted from all Deciderr users, regardless of whether or not they are following them. The “People” tab is a feed of just people the user has specifically chosen to follow. The “Feed” tab provides notifications of activity on questions, including answers and comments. The “Profile” tab displays a summary of the user’s questions and those in which they have been “tagged” with a Twitter-style @username. Finally, the button to actually ask a question is prominently displayed in the lower middle of the screen.