Japan’s GREE To Challenge Facebook And Zynga As Global Social Gaming Platform In 2012

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Japanese mobile social gaming giant and Openfeint owner GREE has outlined today its previously announced plan to launch a mobile social gaming network for the global market next year. Details are (relatively) scarce at this point, but the publicly traded company (current market cap: US$7.5 billion) seems to be serious in positioning itself against Facebook Mobile as a gaming platform for smartphones.

In the press release, the word “Openfeint” not even appears once. Instead, GREE aims at launching a unified gaming platform that knows no borders: new users and the existing 155 million players on GREE in Japan and Openfeint worldwide will be able to use a single-sign on to register and play together. There will also be a payment system for virtual goods that works internationally and a “a series of robust out-of-network cross promotional opportunities” plus analytics tools for game developers on iOS and Android.

GREE is planning to launch the global gaming platform sometime between April and June 2012. In the end, GREE’s vision is to have 1 billion players on their platform (you read that right). The initial game line-up was unveiled at GREE’s portal for developers today, and includes titles from the company itself (as first-party titles), Capcom, Konami, Sega, Taito, and Square Enix.

Here are screenshots for Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution, GREE’s RPG doliland, and GREE’s fantasy strategy game Dragon Ark (from top to bottom):

The company is set to go head-to-head not only with Facebook Mobile, but also ngmoco owner DeNA (which has already launched Mobage in English for smartphones), and similar services like Heyzap, Gamewave from Japanese company CyberAgent, Apple’s Gamecenter, and others.

GREE has opened an office in San Francisco in January this year (GREE International) and either opened or is planning to open presences in Beijing, Seoul, Singapore, London, Amsterdam, Dubai and Sao Paolo. The company is on track to generate up to US$$1.8 billion in revenue and US$900 million in profit this fiscal: almost entirely in Japan, only with social games, and only on cell phones.

GREE CEO Yoshikazu Tanaka was a speaker at the TechCrunch Tokyo 2011 conference just last week. You can watch Erick Schonfeld’s interview in Tokyo with him here and dive into Erick’s comparison of GREE and Zynga here.