A Look at Social Games from Japan

As American social web services have become more popular around the world, international developers have begun giving them more attention. So here’s a look at a couple of games made by Japanese companies.

boradway cafeUsing Facebook Connect, Artscape and Istpika developed an iPhone and Facebook game by the name of Broadway Café. Part Restaurant City, part Dinner Dash, this little number has you scurrying around like a scullery maid serving meals, taking orders, cooking food, working the register, and so on as you try to make your café a success.

All of your friends from Facebook can now be hired to work at your café. If the concept sounds similar, that’s because it’s one of the core social elements within Playfish’s Restaurant City, and like the North American counterpart, Broadway Café even comes with its own customization features, allowing players to customize the interior of their restaurant to their own personal tastes.

gottado2Also developed by Istpika is an iPhone app by the name of gottaDo2. This one is simpler, but equally entertaining. In the fashion of popular virtual pets games (which have long been popular in Asia), this application is nothing more than an interactive task manager. Here’s the trick though, each item on your “to do list” is like a food item, and you have to care a visceral, blue, blobby… thing. For each task you complete, it feeds the creature, allowing it to grow, and for each you don’t, well, it gets upset at you for being lazy. The best part, too, is that this game as well, can synch up with a Facebook counterpart allowing you to share your lists as well as seeing others’.

Last on the import list comes from a Japanese company by the name of Cerego. This social developer is the creator behind the social learning platform iKnow! (intended to teach Japanese people English) and while they may not be making an iPhone app, they have launched a new Facebook quiz game by the name of Smart.fm Brainspeed. In a nutshell, this curious title has players taking quizzes based around the personal information of all your Facebook friends. Certainly an interesting concept reminiscent of games like FriendFreak, with the only draw back being if you have too many friends or they haven’t filled out their personal section enough.

brainspeedDespite the potential of the game, Cerego has claimed that it is merely a proof of concept meant to display how their technology can leverage structured information and use it to educate people. Having recently received $3.4 million from a round of funding from NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile phone carrier, it will be interesting to see just what the big plan for Cerego is going to be.

Suffice to say, North American platforms are indeed popular, and growing in popularity still, around the globe. The fact that the iPhone itself proves popular in Japan is an astounding wonder considering that the country releases somewhere over 100 different types of mobile phones every year. – Actually, estimates from Japan’s iPhone provider, SoftBank Mobile, state that sales are well over one million (sadly, the provider doesn’t release official data). With Facebook and the iPhone catching the attention of the most technology savvy country in the world, this marks a tremendous milestone for the Western spaces. Look for more Japanese developers to move in.