Smartphone Games Summit 2010: International Perspective On Smartphone Games

The smartphone games business is becoming increasingly international. Our panel of industry experts shared their views on what’s working around the globe and how you can apply their insights to your business. The panel was joined by David Collier of Pikkle, Akira Abe of mixi, and Noby Ota of DeNA. The panel was focused more on the Japanese market but provided some good insight into the challenges of coming to the foreign market. More after the jump.

Mixi has about 14 million monthly active users. They opened up to mobile last August and has been working with 3rd party developers, giving them API access. The best game on the platform is currently Rekoo’s Sunshine Ranch with about 5 MMAUs.

Pikkle is a publisher of apps on various platforms – one of the largest with 20 employees. The most popualr game ont he platform is Treasure Hunters and is a 3D flash game that runs in all of the devices in Japan.

For DeNA, they have about 30 percent market share. There’s 3 networks in Japan with about 20 million users. This is great for content providers because the mobile operators are at war with each other – spending millions of users to acquire users.

What techniques do you guys use for customer acquisition?

– Television ads, expensive media campaigns

– Mixi provides with a dashboard and APIs such as messaging, viral. By utilizing these, people can discover what kind of game they want to play

– Pikkle finds Mixi’s viral channels to be useful

-In Japan you’re part of a string of games so its like a lobby system with a little bit o cross promotions

– Japan is primarily a mobile site driven market

– There’s things like mixi connect that works like fb conect

Are people using PC to discover mobile and vice versa?

– Fundamentally Japan’s a mobile economy – not really any PC sites. Mobile first

What’s the ‘spamming facebook walls’ in Facebook’s equivalent in mobile?

– A lot of primitive messaging and spamming

How is engagement in DeNA network?

– There is a virtual community and diff. games with virtual currency within these games and communities

– A lot of buzz is created by people commenting

In general, you get good acquisition because you have to use your real friends since you can’t make friends within the game.

What else is driving engagement and retention?

– Location based elements are emerging

– Achievements and badges definitely help

– Appointment mechanics don’t really work

Are there a lot of stand-alone titles on the platforms?

– DeNA finds cross platform games that are fun to play and syncronize them – such as same virtual currency and a singular ID system

What about the big spenders aka whales?

– The ARPPU is not too high – its more about maximizing value of lifetime value

– Mixi is afraid of some american company coming in and scamming users so they put a limit on individual transactions

What should American companies think about when wanting to enter Japan?

– DeNA is building a structure that allows localization so is looking for U.S. developers to enter Japan

– Devels. should find the right partner to help create the right user experience

– DeNA launched a limited partner fund called Incubation Fund – but are looking for people mostly in Japan.