A few more details to report on Japan’s homegrown LINE4Mobile: a new distribution system to tackle the Google Play Store and iPhone app store.
In a bid to bring Android users the benefits of a native device-compatible version of Line. Japan will encourage developers to offer in-app purchases directly in their games. Line means the most frequent use for those big-name platform. Launching on a new distribution channel would help the game developers boost their sales. The new channel will launch in the middle of May, the company says.
Currently, downloads of games from the Play Store force a 30 percent registration fee, while sales fees don’t. According to LINE, in-app purchases are the payment method of choice for gamers.
But LINE also noted that the new sales channel is proof that Android games are getting a boost on Japanese shores. A number of titles, such as Saboteur and Werewolf picnics, already use the network, LINE Group President Yoshihiro Otsuki said in an interview with Yomiuri Shimbun.
The new channels will be open to all developers, “which is a huge change for us,” Otsuki says. “Currently, developers have to jump through another hoops by registering with different kinds of permission databases.” The ability to offer in-app purchases through the channel would “make the games load faster, and also help remove the pain of registering through different methods,” he said.
With so many apps to choose from, it’s no wonder there’s been no major success factor so far for mobile gambling apps. Currently, all eyes are on Gambling With Friends, or GKW, which is under fire by Japanese regulators. But GKW co-founder Giorgos Ina is confident, as he sent me an email. “We’re set for a big hit,” he wrote, although there’s still a little bit of work to do before everyone really thinks about the potential market potential here.
Google’s Android Market, Google Play and Apple’s App Store generate less than 10 percent of the global installed user base. But industry-watchers are expecting that figure to rise sharply over the next five years, according to mobile-marketing consultancy Booz & Co. Japan’s virtual goods market is growing faster than any other country in the world, it said in its recent State of the Mobile Industry report.
In other news, Korea’s Line already launched a free iPhone app and made a deal with the Apple iPhone and iPad app store to let users access its Android app.
Also of note: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has indicated it will develop and release an Android-based console game called Virtual Console from the use of the PlayStation 3. That would be a huge game development platform for any Sony developer, says Duke Kawano, an analyst with CE Consultants. Japan’s NPD Group last week said that videogame software sales in Japan are set to slow considerably in the coming months, with many casual games being heavily cannibalized by young male gamers.