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Developer Interview 2011

Manabu Seko / President - Beeline Interactive Japan, Inc.

Accelerated pace of price cutting across the mobile contents market The key is "freemium"

- In which particular regions and countries does Beeline invest the most resources?
More than half of the world's iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad users live in North America, so we've first set our sights on developing games that appeal to consumers there. The one reason "Smurfs' Village" has done so well is because the "Smurfs" franchise, which originally comes from Belgium, is immensely popular in Europe. This familiarity enabled the title to become a major hit around the world.
Moving into the future, Beeline Japan‘s goal is to create games that top the Japanese charts, while Beeline in London will seek to do the same in Europe. The key to churning out top selling titles is catering to regional needs. Rather than pouring a lot of money into development and human resources, we aim to use our speedy development team structure to become the number one content producer in each region.
- You say speedy, but how long does it take to develop a single title?
All told it takes about half a year from the start of development until distribution. Spending too much time on development can make a game obsolete, even if the original concept was considered to be pretty interesting in the planning stage. It also gives our competitors a chance to come out with a similar game before we finish, which would lead consumers to believe we were just copying everyone else. These are the main reasons why we work so hard to distribute new titles six months after we start development.
- How much does it cost on average to make mobile contents?
It costs a lot less than making console-based games. The time needed for development is also much shorter. The important thing is making most of your limited budget to produce something people will have fun playing.
- What plans do you have for markets outside Japan, North America, and Europe?
Beeline Interactive Japan will be responsible for developing the Asian market. Looking at emerging nations such as Russia, China, and countries in South America, I believe Android-based phones rather than the expensive iPhone will be the driving force behind each of these markets.
- I see. What kind of support do you have in mind for Android?
Naturally we are creating Android ports of our popular titles. That being said, the Android market has a lot to offer. The problem is that the Android business infrastructure is still not fully mature. There is a bunch of free content, with many regions lacking an established system for collecting fees. That is why we are moving forward carefully.
- The explosive spread of smartphones has drastically shaken up the mobile contents market. Where do you see the market heading in the future?
It has become a lot easier for people to enter the market, and this in term has driven down the cost of contents. There are a number of amateur developers that often put their games out on the market without considering returns on investment or balancing profit and cost. An effective way to counter the plunging prices in the market is to introduce a "freemium" system. The basic premise of this system is to put out a free game that encourages users to "buy" currency used to purchase items needed to play and progress through the game. Unfortunately the mobile market is prone to rapid and sudden change, so I'm afraid I'll have to come up with a whole new billing system by this time next year.
- Sounds like you always have to remain one step ahead. My last question is about your work as president of Beeline Interactive Japan Co., Ltd. What are your future plans and goals?
I'm sure this comes as no surprise, but our primary goal is to establish ourselves as the No.1 content producer in the Japanese market. Capcom's mobile development division has done really well in Japan, so we'd like to compete and try to surpass them in the future. I'd also like to take hit titles in Japan and export them to countries around the world. It'd be incredible to see Beeline Japan's own original content, especially titles without licensed characters, enjoy immense popularity around the world.

Back to Developer Interview 2011 Top Page
  1. 08.Katsuhiko Ichii
  2. 07.Masaru Ijuin
  3. 06.Masachika Kawata
  4. 05.Hiroyuki Kobayashi
  5. 04.Yoshinori Ono
  6. 03.Yoichi Egawa
  7. 02.Manabu Seko
  8. 01.Takeshi Tezuka

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