Japanese company Gree which runs a mobile gaming social network yesterday revealed that it had purchased OpenFeint, which runs a very similar social network, for $104 million. The deal follows the $403 million acquisition of Ngmoco by another Japanese firm, DeNa, last October. However unlike that deal, Gree and OpenFeint will not be merging their social networks into one service, opting instead to unify their codebase so that developers can choose to use either Gree, OpenFeint (or Mig33 which Gree also has a deal with) depending on the specific market which the game is targeted towards.
The appeal for such a service that OpenFeint delivers is that mobile game developers can easily utilise a mature network that offers users a more social experience with leaderboards and challenges whilst also helping developers by easily allowing cross-promotion through the network. Gree has been a big success in Japan with over 25 million users and a market value of $3 billion, but OpenFeint has gone gangbusters on iOS and Android with over 75 million users and is implemented by over 5,000 games.
OpenFeint’s current CEO, Jason Citron, will remain in his position and said in an interview that the deal will accelerate OpenFeint’s expansion globally, which he believes is a “multibillion dollar opportunity” in conjunction with the increasing dominance of smartphones and tablets. “We are beginning of a new age,” Citron further added. “The economic opportunity here is so tremendous and gaming is the killer app.” Meanwhile, Yoshikazu Tanaka, founder and CEO of Gree said “At Gree, we are socializing the next evolution of games and, as the best-in-class US-based mobile social network, OpenFeint is the ideal partner for us to offer the best mobile social games to the largest global audience.”