In a world full of answers you start your journey by asking the right questions
About this time last year I mentioned that digital ad agency Razorfish had revealed in its Digital Outlook Report 2008 [PDF] the existence of a mobile only social network community in Japan called MobageTown.
Prior to that publication Infinita’s Christopher Billich had delivered an excellent presentation to the Mobile Media Investors Conference on Japanese mobile usage and the emergence of MobageTown.
Note: Slides 30 to 41 of this presentation outline the Advertising:Avatar:Social Games mix of the Mobage Town business model and examples of some the more successful sponsorship campaigns (e.g. Coca Cola).
This presentation was subsequently updated and released as a detailed report in August 2009.
Alexei Poliakov’s Japan Mobile SNS Study posted earlier this year provides a detailed comparative study [after slide 9] of Japan’s big three social networks – Mixi, Gree and Mobage Town. In the presentation Alexei classifies MobageTown as a game-centric social network with a focus on delivering fun and entertainment experience.
The success of the model makes more sense once you have analysed the demographics [SLIDe 20] in Alexei’s presentation. MobageTown’s games platform appeals to younger male audience
The Mobagetown brand is owned by a Japanese corporation: DeNA.
DeNA have been in the tech and gaming news recently because they have taken the opportunity to acquire the San Francisco mobile games developer ngmoco to assist them in the execution of their long-term strategy to make DeNA/MobageTown the dominant global brand in mobile social media gaming.
After the ngmoco acquisition was announced last month I tracked down a copy of DeNA’s 2nd Qtr Results Presentation [PDF]. This is the investor presentation in which they estimate their Mobile Social Gaming Network ARPU’s to be 30x that of Facebook and 15x that of Zynga. It should be noted that their traffic figures are around 4% of Facebook 500,000 monthly uniques.
Apart from the comparative study of the ARPU’s the two most interesting slides in the presentation are these two illustrating the shape of the business model.
The first displays a breakdown of the revenue streams in the social media business. As you can see the bulk of the revenue comes in-game revenues streams (i.e. Virtual Goods, Bling and in-game Ads) – No surprises there.
The second slide illustrates how the MobageTown Virtual Community Social Gaming Model differs from the Facebook Social Gaming Network Model.
What I find interesting is the idea the MobageTown gaming platform is designed to help strangers discover new friendships rather than leverage (and monetize) existing friendships. Again this social growth model probably suits the younger male demographic that is attracted to the MobageTown gaming platform.
Indeed the primary differential between Facebook and MobageTown could simply be Facebook is essentially a gaming platform for young girls and MobageTown a gaming platform for young boys.
Again one could speculate on what Sony’s “PlayStation” phone strategy would have looked like today if it had embraced the social games network platform as enthusiastically as DeNA but we will leave that discussion for another day…
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