Back in 2008, Japanese social networking site Mixi had over 20 million users — but, as is often the case with such enterprises, the crowds soon moved on to the next big thing. The company behind the site is experiencing something of a change of fortune thanks to a mobile game called Monster Strike, created by video game industry veteran Yoshiki Okamoto.
During the 1980s, Okamoto worked for both Konami and Capcom, contributing to the development of titles like Time Pilot, 1942 and Final Fight. Then, at the beginning of the 1990s he had his greatest success with the genre-defining Street Fighter II. In the early 2000s he left Capcom to form Game Republic, but despite some critically acclaimed releases, financial issues meant that the studio was forced to close in 2011.
At that time Okamoto declared that he was retiring from console game development, and instead would focus on the burgeoning mobile scene. That's where his path crossed with that of Mixi; eager to grab a slice of the mobile gaming market after its social network began to falter, Mixi received Okamoto's prototype for the game that would become Monster Strike and hurried it into production.
With a focus on multiplayer in particular, and somewhat unusually for this type of game, face-to-face multiplayer — Monster Strike isn't all too far removed from Mixi's primary business of social media. Indeed, we've seem games like Candy Crush Saga and FarmVille use services like Facebook to bring casual games to a far broader audience than ever before.
However, it's the monetization of these typically free-to-play games that can sometimes prove to be a stumbling block. Not in the case of Monster Strike, though — it reportedly brings in some $2 million per day in revenue from in-app purchases, and is currently responsible for bringing in the vast majority of Mixi's total income. It's no exaggeration to say that this mobile game saved a company that was floundering for a time.
This year we've seen too much evidence that there's plenty wrong with the current state of console gaming — and the story of Yoshiki Okamoto and Monster Strike certainly would suggest that there are good reasons for talent to flock to mobile development rather than work with the consoles that were once the cornerstone of the video game industry.
Monster Strike is available now on Android and iOS devices as a free download with in-app purchases.
Source: The New York Times