Can Japanese Companies Capitalize On US Mobile Users?

As DeNA-ngmoco set its gaze on the western frontier, we can’t help but wonder if Japanese companies can duplicate their success across the Pacific. Will the mobile gaming craze catch on? It’s only a matter of time. More after the jump.

We took a look recently at some gaming-related statistics here at SocialTimes that shed light into how gamers are increasingly moving towards social network gaming. According to research from the NPD Group, over 20% of the U.S. population ages 6 and older reports having played a social network game in the past 3 months. There are currently over 77 million online gamers – a number that is set to expand over the coming years.

“Although 35 percent of social network gamers are new to gaming, it’s clear that a lot of existing gamers have been drawn into the social network gaming arena as well,” said Anita Frazier, Industry Analyst, The NPD Group. “This impacts both the time they spend with other types of gaming, as well as the amount of money they’re spending on gaming. As more players are drawn into these games, the entire games industry is going to feel, and have to adjust to, the impact.”

Japan-based Nintendo and Sony are 2 great examples of companies out of the east that have had a tremendous impact on the U.S. population. As console adoption slows compared to smartphones, players such as DeNA and GREE will be looking to expand past the pacific frontiers to increase market share. GREE and Mobage-town, DeNA’s core SNS, have been capitalizing on the mobile gaming market in Japan and are expected to grow their net sales by 82% and 216%, respectively, according to eMarketer.

Roughly 80% of the revenues GREE and DeNA make come from item billing, in-game ads, affiliate ads and avatars, while 20% are comprised of traditional ads. Mixi, also one of the largest mobile social network in Japan, opened its platform to attract 3rd party developers to reduce dependancy on ads.

Japan’s never been strong on social networking websites because users typically use their mobile device to connect to SNS such as mixi. The mobile social network penetration in both U.S. and Japan is close to 22 percent. With 36 percent of the U.S. population having gamed through mobile devices and 41 percent having used social networks, it’s only a matter of time before everything becomes social and in some cases, mobile.

Japanese mobile social networkers have topped the 65M mark recently, a jump of 40 percent from a year earlier. GREE has about 22M, and Mobage has roughly 21.6M. Mixi follows closely with 21.6M registrants.

Recently Samsung and DeNA struck a deal in which DeNA’s social gaming platform Mobage, which currently has over 20M users, would come pre-installed on Samsung devices which will be utilizing the Android operating system.

What about existing players that are striving to gain traction in the west? The cross platform mobile social network OpenFeint has been seeing some impressive numbers – adding roughly 450,000 new users on Christmas leading up 1.4M total downloads over the four day period according to Pocket Gamer. WIth over 55 million strong users, it won’t simply be a walk in the park for DeNA especially as others like PapayaMobile and Scoreloop compete in the same space.