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Ngmoco Purchased by DeNA for $400 Million

Posted by Blake Grundman on October 12th, 2010

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.

We City Review

iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
By Chris Hall on September 27th, 2010
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: NOTHING NEW
We City takes the same formula that the other "We" games prescribe to, and puts on a city building overlay. You'll either love it or hate it.
Read The Full Review »

We City Completes The "We" Trilogy

Posted by Chris Hall on September 24th, 2010

ngmoco:), the company that has dominated the freemium category on the iPhone thus far, has today added We City to its collection of "We" games. For those that weren't aware, the original two games, "We Rule" and "We Farm" have been hugely successful, but were primarily relegated to things like farming and raising livestock. After the explosion of Farmville on Facebook, the masses haven't had any complaints about virtual farming as a source of entertainment, but I have always had bigger aspirations.

Like the clueless people in the Windows commercial saying that they "created Windows 7", I have created We City. I was tired of planting crops and taking my pig to the county fair. I didn't care how many people bought things from my farm because in the end, I was still stuck on the farm. I wouldn't exactly label myself an urban socialite, but I don't live on a farm, nor do I ever aspire to. I live in the city, and gosh darnit, I want to build an urban utopia.

Like the other "We" games before it though, the formula is exactly the same. Click on a building to start whatever it does, click on it again to finish its objective or use the instant item "zap" to make things happen fast. If you become impatient and wish you had a real game to play, you can always buy more "zap" and pretend you are playing Sim City.

The launch of We City lends me to another thought altogether, though. When will we have had enough of the Farmville type game? Are there enough people playing these games to populate all of their game worlds or will they just jump from one game to a newer one as they come out? I can just foresee a "We" game burnout coming, as they are now coming out at an almost inconceivable pace.

As for the game itself, it is definitely more enjoyable than the other "We" games before it, but the whole process is grating on me. I just want to sit down and play a game without having to wait an hour for an item to build. Call me crazy, but what I really want here is an MMO Sim City.

Next Apps from ngmoco:) Announced: We Farm, We City, Touch Pets Cats, and The Next Eliminate

Posted by Jeff Scott on June 22nd, 2010
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad

We got a chance to stop in ay the new office of ngmoco:) recently for a quick rundown on some of their upcoming apps. As you may remember, they made a business switch recently and are moving completely to the free to play model where the games are free to download and play, but have some form of in-app purchases to give you a better experience. Their latest creations all fall into that model and include a spin-off from Touch Pets Dogs, Eliminate, and two from We Rule.

We Farm

First up is ngmoco:)'s answer to Farmville. Built from the We Rule engine, this game will look familiar to those of you who have played We Rule. But this time around the focus is on farming. Both raising crops (like in We Rule), and raising livestock are the prime methods to earning in-game cash. To keep things a little friendlier though, animals are never sent off to slaughter. Instead, after raising them they are sent to be judged.

We City

Next up, also built on the We Rule engine, We City. While We Farm is fairly similar to We Rule, this one changes things up a little bit. Instead of building a farm/kingdom, you are building a city. Think of this is a very simplified, friendly and social version of SimCity.

In both We City and We Farm, you can visit your friends creations and interact by purchasing services and goods from them, much like in We Rule. It should be noted that ngmoco:) have made the odd decision to have each individual game, even though they are very similar and are targeting a similar audience, have their own unique version of We Rule's mojo. Players would, I'm sure, greatly appreciate a common in-game bonus currency so that if you excel in one game you can speed up another. But alas, this is not to be.

Touch Pets Cats

Touch Pets Cats is the answer to Touch Pets Dogs for you feline lovers. Similar game, but there are a few small changes in how it's played. For one, since cats generally stay inside, the whole experience is indoors. You have the option to decorate your living space with earned and purchasable items and furniture.

The Next Version of Eliminate

By far the most interesting title we saw was the next version of Eliminate. Currently without a final title, this version will be set in the current time instead of the future -- think US military fighting in the middle east. Much like Eliminate, it's multiplayer over the Internet and works butter smooth. The game itself reminded me very much of Counterstrike and had some really good action. No images of the game yet, but keep an eye out for full details.