A good King keeps their coffers filled, and few countries pay more to crush candy than Japan.
This week, social developer King, which makes the mobile match-3 puzzler Candy Crush Saga, opened up an office in the Japan to cater to the nation’s game-crazed player base. The Japanese smartphone market is worth $5 billion, and player acquisition costs are relatively low compared to how much developers earn per install. King will want this new division to focus on providing content specifically for the Eastern audience. Ken Edahiro, former chief marketing officer of mobile developer Gloops, will oversee King Japan as general manager. He is currently only working with two other people, but Edahiro told CNet that he is looking to expand the staff of the Tokyo-based office quickly.
This is King’s 10th office, and it’s the first new location since it went public in March. King is currently trading at $17.47, which is down from its initial public offering of $22.50
“What’s interesting is that according to Edahiro, [these new] employees would not only take care of localizing King-produced content for Japan, but they may also be developing original games specifically made for local players in the mid- or long-term,” Japan mobile-gaming analyst Dr. Serkan Toto wrote in a blog post.
King isn’t only investing in Japan with a physical presence. It is also starting up a new television marketing campaign.
The series of commercials feature boy band heartthrob Junichi Okada of the group V6 and actor Kenichi Endo of The Raid 2. In the ads, the men stare down the camera with black-and-white faces and … well, I don’t speak Japanese. But it all seems very serious. According to Toto, the various spots go for a mixture of edgy and funny that he thinks is “pretty good.”
Check ’em out in the video below:
This is King’s second wave of television advertising for Candy Crush Saga. In December, the company ran a commercial that featured actress Mikako Tabe playing the game as candy rains down upon her from the sky.
The marketing doesn’t end with television, King is also featuring Okada and Endo on the iTunes App Store. Apple has Candy Crush Saga in its featured-app spot on the store, and the two Japanese men — again in black & white — eyeball you while flanking the game’s logo.
King’s interest in Japan makes sense. In February, industry-intelligence firm Distimo reported that the country’s mobile software industry is thriving. Mobile games in Japan have by far the highest average revenue per download at $6.36. That’s compared to $2.52 in the U.S. and $3.82 in Korea. Despite that huge amount of spending, player acquisition is also among the lowest in Japan at an average of $1.86 per install. In the U.S., developers spend $2.17 for that and spend $1.98 in Korea.
The bottom is line is that every install in Japan is worth about $5.
Candy Crush Saga is the 14th highest-grossing iPhone game in Japan, according to data-tracking company App Annie. It’s also the 25th most downloaded. Those numbers will very likely see an increase thanks to King’s new battery of TV ads and the iTunes placement, but King Japan will likely immediately start looking forward to new ways to leverage the lucrative market.
King isn’t the only mobile company making an effort like this. Finnish-based Supercell, developer of Clash of Clans, is also working to establish a strong presence in Japan.