We have known for a long time that the iPhone was far beyond just just a viable gaming platform, it was the future. One of the biggest examples of that to date has gone down this morning, with Ngmoco announcing their purchase by Japanese gaming company DeNA for a staggering 400 million dollars.
Ngmoco, best known for their early successes like the critically acclaimed Rolando, has recently embraced the social gaming space, releasing games such as their "We" series including We Rule, We City and We Farm. While these were viewed as a departure from some of their back catalog, they were more appealing to an organization like DeNA, which has made their fortune developing social games focused on a Japanese market.
Though DeNA does very little business in the west, the New York Times reports that the company managed to rake in $640 million in 2009 alone and are (without this recent acquisition considered in the equation) on pace to earn a projected $1.5 billion in 2014. Their big hit, Mobage Town, is a traditional social networking structure that earns most of its income from clothing and accessory purchases for in-game avatars. Plus, as a point of comparison, it is also reported that compared to Facebook's 500 million user accounts, DeNA paltry 20.5 million accounts record an amazing 25-to-1 return on income per user.
It is being reported by Mobile-ent.biz that plans are in place for DeNA to integrate Mobage Town into Ngmoco's Plus+ community, to further expand the reach of their empire into the mobile space. This now pits the companies head to head with US-based Zynga and their numerous Facebook and recently expanded portable social gaming presence.
Once again speaking with the New York Times, CEO of DeNA, Tomoko Namba was quoted as saying:
"We’re only active in the Japanese market, and we haven’t figured out how to cover the Western market. We want to enable developers to go cross-device, and to go cross-border. And we need this to happen quickly, in about the next one or two years."
If expansions into western markets is the aim of this acquisition, this may be a great chance to finally see that be successful to its full potential. Plus, when you consider that Ngmoco's Plus+ platform recently expanded to the Android as well, DeNA is now primed to be accessible on virtually every modern handset available in North America. Now the question remains what will be left of Ngmoco after this take-over is complete? We just hope that they will be able to keep making the games that we have grown to know and love.
Most importantly, this monumental purchase validates the assertion that there is quite a bit of money to be made in the iOS development world. We are no longer the minor leagues of game development, because with money like that being thrown around, soon everyone is going to want a piece of the action.