Dr Toto adds: “I think that the Japanese social gaming market is very different from that of the US or Europe. In Europe and America, casino games are moneymaking machines, but in Japan the market is dominated by the ‘traditional’ social genres, such as farming and puzzle titles."
“The biggest moneymakers in the casino genre are pachinko games, which have a slot mechanic within them, but these are very simple games and more approximations of real pachinko games. Poker and slots are present in the market but virtually unknown,” he concludes.
Many may have been deterred by a ban on a prize mechanic in May this year, which prompted fears of a crackdown on gambling-style games. While social casino operators resolutely deny that they offer gambling in any shape or form, it seems the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency begs to differ. The agency initiated a crackdown on kompu gacha, a game mechanic wherein payers could win a virtual prize and progress in a game after wagering a stake of ¥300 ($3.74), decreeing that it was too similar to gambling and ordering all operators to comply.
The effect was immediate, with GREE’s share price dropping 23%, though the head of its corporate division, Ryutaro Shima, claimed that “even if kompu gacha is abandoned, it won’t rock the foundation of GREE”. Despite Shima’s confidence that the ban would not affect the company, Macquarie Securities analyst David Gibson suggested that net income could drop 18% as a result.