For the Love of Games and BBQ: Meet Chartboost Japan Country Manager Yoshikazu Furuhata
March 25, 2015
Yoshikazu Furuhata is a people person. The new Chartboost Japan country manager insists he doesn't rule like a general. In fact, it's quite the opposite. His love of games shines through his happy demeanor ? and nothing perks him up more than the promise of the Japanese mobile gaming market. In a country traditionally dominated by big business, he hopes to make way for smaller, independent mobile game developers to build success not only at home, but also abroad.We spoke to Furuhata about his hopes for the future of mobile gaming and why he wants to help Japanese mobile game developers go global.How did you enter the gaming world?My first introduction was in 2003 with a Japanese publisher of PC MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) covering both technology and content. I gained experience in various fields, such as game licensing, game localization for the Japanese market, the role of the online game operators, game support and game technology. Over the past 7 years I've focused more on providing overseas game development middleware to major game companies in Japan.What does the landscape of mobile gaming in Japan look like today?Japan is still big into console gaming. Mobile gaming was around early, but in the form of a feature phone ? not a smartphone. Around 2011, the smartphone stuff took off and now smartphone game developers are hoping to have global success. The smartphone game market size in Japan was around $5.4 billion (546.8 billion yen) in 2013 and is expected to exceed $8 billion (823.8 billion yen) by 2016. The growth rate of native mobile games in Japan is continuously greater, too.How do you hope to impact the Japanese mobile gaming climate?Right now a majority of top-grossing games are only distributed in the Japanese app market. And traditional Japanese advertising agencies don't have their own outbound ad inventory outside of Japan. Chartboost, on the other hand, has its own direct inventory of over 160 countries with more than 150,000 game titles. Establishing an office here will create a point of contact for Japanese game publishers who want to go global.What tips would you give Japanese indie gaming studios?Culturally, Japanese indie developers are more risk-averse, because Japan has traditionally been dominated by big companies. The culture is shifting a bit, and we?re seeing devs that are able to build a business, but they're still less celebrated and encouraged. We hope to change this conversation and educate game devs that don?t have the resources and aren?t getting the right amount of information.This is an exciting time in mobile gaming ? what should developers prepare for?Mobile devices are becoming very powerful. Soon they will have computer power closer to Playstation 3. This will make way for more rich game content. Traditional console level game production skills and knowledge may be needed in coming years.Can you paint a picture of what you hope Japan will be like for mobile games in 5-10 years?Mobile gaming will not be just happening on handheld phones in 5 to 10 years time, but also through tablets and Oculus-type virtual reality devices. Handheld devices will become the controller for the game. Developers and publishers should always be prepared for new technology adaptation.And finally, what would people be surprised to learn about you?I love barbecue (laughs).