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Line, Japan’s most popular mobile messaging service, and mobile game developer Gumi today announced a strategic partnership to further expand their global reach.

The move is intended to raise the worldwide profile of both companies and take high quality Japanese mobile games to a global audience — an estimated $20 billion market in 2014.

The partnership includes both distribution and investment capital, with Line investing an undisclosed sum in exchange for Gumi shares, financially supporting the development of new games. Line will then distribute these games through its mobile platform on iOS and Android devices.

Line was born as a response to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that knocked out telephone lines in north-east Japan. It now ranks first in the free app category in 60 countries and has over 490 million registered users worldwide.

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Gumi’s biggest worldwide success has been Brave Frontier, a mobile role-playing game that started out in Japan but has since become a hit on iOS and Android in over 50 countries. Brave Frontier makes $80,000 in sales daily in the United States, according to estimates by game analytics firm Think Gaming.

“Market competition in mobile games and, in particular, natively designed games is escalating rapidly, not only in Japan but also worldwide,” Gumi chief executive officer Hironao Kunimitsu said in a statement. “To remain relevant, we need to deliver high quality games efficiently and to as large an audience as possible.”

Line senior executive officer Jun Masuda emphasized the importance of the partnership in making progress in new markets: “We strongly align with gumi’s appetite for global expansion and their network of studios worldwide, and especially, we support their courageous approach in taking on new market challenges.”

Gumi’s ambition is encapsulated in this statement on its website: “Gumi aims to become the top provider of smartphone and feature phone social games in the world.”

This partnership is a big step in that direction.

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