NetDragon, DeNA tie-up to fire up mobile social games

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2012, 12:00am


Hong Kong-listed NetDragon Websoft is poised to stir up the mainland's fast-growing mobile social games industry after unveiling a new joint venture with Japanese firm DeNA.

Internet games developer NetDragon - headquartered in Fujian province - said yesterday the venture with DeNA would initially employ 30 people when it started developing and operating mobile social games on the mainland later this quarter.

Social games are web-based games that use the infrastructure of social-networking websites. According to a Deutsche Bank report, the biggest social games developer to emerge in recent years is San Francisco-based Zynga, which offers popular titles like Farmville to Facebook users. Mobile social games are played on social-networking portals via internet-linked smartphones and media tablets.

NetDragon's joint venture with DeNA will localise the Tokyo company's popular in-house titles and operate them on Mobage China, a domestic mobile gaming platform operated by DeNA. The games will be available via NetDragon's applications distribution platform, 91Game, which counts more than 40 million smartphone users on the mainland.

'We believe this strategic co-operation will strengthen the leadership positions of each platform in their respective home markets and beyond,' NetDragon chairman Liu Dejian said in a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Over the longer term, the joint venture is expected to create original in-house mobile social games and multiplayer online role-playing games to Mobage users worldwide. DeNA's Mobage mobile games community serves more than 35 million users in Japan and offers more than 1,800 game titles for smartphones, regular handsets and laptops.

Internet consultancy iResearch forecast the market for social games on the mainland to have a total transaction value of 3.5 billion yuan (HK$3.5 billion) this year, up from an estimated 1.8 billion yuan last year. By comparison, the mainland's total game market is projected to be worth 45.2 billion yuan this year, up from an estimated 38 billion yuan the previous year, according to JPMorgan.

Deutsche Bank identified Beijing-based Hoolai, Papaya Mobile, Rekoo and Happy Elements, KingNet from Shanghai and Shenzhen's Boyaa as among the most active mainland developers of mobile social games.