- - First of all, please explain what's happening now in the market for mobile content.
Both hardware and software for mobile content have been changing quickly over the past few years. For hardware, smartphones and other high-performance devices started to appear around 2009. There was a dramatic shift to these new devices by users of conventional mobile phones ("feature phones" hereafter). For software, we've seen growth in social networking service (SNS) games, which require the ability to communicate with other players. This growth has taken place along with increasing use of the "freemium" system, in which users are billed for individual items.
- - Are there differences in how much smartphones are used in Japan and other countries?
Definitely. Smartphone use is increasing worldwide. But feature phones still account for the majority of mobile phones in Japan because feature phones already had many additional functions and capabilities. The launch of revolutionary smartphone models has produced a much faster shift from feature phones. However, this migration is still slower in Japan than in other countries. Overseas, ordinary mobile phones were used mainly as telephones. Handsets did not evolve to more advanced versions as in Japan. As a result, the appearance of multi-function smartphones triggered a very fast shift to these new devices.
- - How did the appearance of smartphones alter how you develop games?
The limited capabilities of feature phones impose restrictions on games. Smartphones give game developers much more freedom. We can use touch screens and other features of these devices to create games that provide a more direct sense of participation. I think this makes it easier to give people who have never experienced this game genre the opportunity to enjoy these games.
- - Do you think that strong sales of smartphones can be translated into growth in the distribution of games?
Not necessarily. The smartphone market is divided into two categories: Apple's iPhone and phones using Google's Android platform. That makes it impossible to distribute all content in the same way. Currently, we have a large number of titles for the iPhone because a content distribution network has been established. The Android content distribution market is just beginning to grow and I hope that this progress continues. Much of the game development process is the same for the iPhone and Android platforms because both are operated primarily by multi-touch LCD screens. This is why I want to create games for both platforms while paying close attention to future developments involving the iPhone and Android distribution networks.