Japan's Gree Aims to Take on Facebook, Zynga With Social Gaming Platform

Japanese mobile game provider Gree said Tuesday it would launch a new gaming platform next year as it looks to take on heavyweights like Facebook and Zynga.

The Tokyo-based company is not well-known outside of Japan but is making a push to establish itself as a global player in mobile games, especially on smartphones. The company acquired U.S. game platform operator OpenFeint in April and now claims 150 million registered users worldwide, with a stated goal of reaching one billion.

Gree's main business is providing the social and payment systems that are built into games, so its first priority is drawing game developers. The company said its new platform, which will go live between April and June of next year, will unify its existing APIs and allow game makers using its network to easily launch globally on iOS, Android or on the web.

The company said major game companies including Capcom, Konami and Sega have agreed to launch titles on the platform when it launches. Gree will provide developer support in Japanese, English and Chinese, with user support in over a dozen languages, as well as hosting and consulting services.

Company CEO and founder Yoshikazu Tanaka said his company offers a social network, a development platform as well as games, unlike larger rivals such as Facebook and Zynga that offer some portion of those.

In Japan, Gree has built its business on providing mainly free titles through its platform, generating profits through advertising and in-game payments.

In the U.S., Gree will compete with aggressive Japanese rival DeNA, which acquired mobile game firm ngmoco last year and has announced deals with large carriers such as AT&T. Gree last month sued DeNA in Japan for $14 million for allegedly blocking developers from launching games for both of the firm's platforms.

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