If you have been hiding under a rock for the last while, you probably don’t know who GREE is. Actually, that’s probably not true – even if you have been hiding under a rock you have probably heard of them. GREE is a massive mobile company and social networking force. I remember hearing about them a few years ago and wondering how they would do. Last year, I was in Denver and San Francisco – and I had my answer. They had posters in a few of the airports and in other public places as well – spaces reserved for AAA console titles. With the acquisition of OpenFeint and Funzio, GREE is definitely making a push into North America in a big way.
Recently, we had the chance to ask Anil Dharni (SVP of Studio Operations) a few questions – so we took it!
TT: Did you ever think that you would become as big as you are?
AD: Back when our founder, Yoshikazu Tanaka, started things up – he was a two-man team creating something that could connect people all over Japan – and ideally all over the world. As much as his ambitions were big and global, I don’t think they ever envisioned how quickly they would grow and actually be able to reach audiences worldwide the way they have since the creation of GREE. Our growth and success is a true testament to our passion for games and genuine desire to make truly fun and unique games and we can’t wait to see what this year will bring for us!
The source of your name refers to degrees of separation – have you ever tried to see the average number of degrees that you are separated from everyone?
We haven’t tried that – but it would make for an interesting app!
Who, by the numbers, would be your biggest competition?
Because of the variety of services GREE has – the social network in Japan, games worldwide – it has always been difficult for people to compare us directly to one type of company. We are compared to different game developers, social networking company, businesses, and even console game companies – all because of our numbers, experience, and background. We do believe that every company plays an integral part in evolving our industry and stay focused on continuing to push the needle and produce high-quality social mobile games experience for our users. Our number one goal is to make great games.
Who do you feel – on a spiritual level – is your biggest competition?
We really don’t spend a lot of time comparing ourselves to specific companies. We do spend a lot of time understanding the macro picture – how’s the market evolving, how are user preferences changing and any new trends we see on the hardware & software side in mobile. Basically, the entire industry is both our competition and our partners. We like to focus on how we can evolve the mobile gaming market by learning from and working with different developers and learning from our consumers.
As the mobile game game industry evolves though, and takes on a bigger role in entertainment, it will be interesting to see how things like movies, television, music, and books play a part on games, game mechanics, and game-play experiences.
What are your three most successful games?
Modern War, Knights & Dragons, and Crime City.
What plans do you have for 2013 that you can talk about?
Our primary goal in 2013 is to create fun, high-quality social mobile game experiences. In addition to developing new games, that also includes creating new content and feature updates for the games that are already available to ensure users continue to have new reasons to visit and enjoy their favorite games. This year we are also looking into building great games for different audiences – mid-core, family, sports to name a few, and really expand the type of gamer we develop for while exploring the latest technologies developed by the industry and our hardware partners. Finally, on the business side, we will keep looking to form partnerships with key international developers – like we have done with IUGO and MunkyFun – and major licensing partners – like MLB and NFL- making sure we always keep ourselves focused on giving the players the games they want.