As it builds up a U.S. mobile and social gaming business, Japanese gaming giant Konami is leaning on its classics.
The company is pushing Frogger Pinball, a pinball edition of the 1981 classic where players have to make sure frogs get across a busy street toward safety. In this version, Frogger’s environment has been polluted by a crocodile’s laser gun and there are many animals that have mutated into bosses that the player must defeat. Hitting the right part of the pinball board will release mutant flies and other animals to shoot down.
Konami is the Tokyo-based company behind classics like Metal Gear and Dance Dance Revolution. It’s investing heavily in building out a presence for casual social-mobile games in Western markets on iOS and Facebook. The Japanese part of the social gaming business has been doing quite well, with 7.8 billion yen ($101.4 million) in revenue in the quarter ending in June from platforms like GREE, DeNA’s Mobage and Mixi.
It hopes to replicate the same success in the U.S. Other Japanese companies like Capcom with a deep catalogue of intellectual property have done well on iOS in Western markets.
Konami has a pretty aggressive schedule for its Southern California-based unit with plans to have four to six games out on Facebook and iOS by March. With 10 people, it’s a tall order. However, the company has been working with third-party developers like the U.K.’s Silverball Studios to finish games.
Frogger Pinball marries a number of different monetization strategies. There’s a free lite version and then there’s a $1.99 paid version of the app that comes with two additional stages. Then Frogger Pinball also has an in-app purchase element where players can buy currency to get power-ups or special balls, which is somewhat similar to how PopCap Games’ Bejeweled Blitz title works. Every time a player uses a power-up, they wear down their energy which can quickly be regenerated by spending virtual currency. The currency packs, called Emeralds, are priced anywhere from $0.99 to $24.99. There’s no social integration at the moment although OpenFeint and Facebook should be coming soon.