Japan’s Youngest Billionaire Loses $700 Million In One Day




Yoshikazu Tanaka, Japan’s youngest billionaire, has seen an estimated $700 million wiped from the value of his shareholding in Gree, the online game provider he founded, in the face of news that Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency is investigating the “Complete Gatcha” (kompugacha) mechanism used to monetize many of his company’s games.

Sources close to the CAA, according to Japan’s Yomiuri Shinbun, are reporting that the agency is close to announcing that kompugacha is in violation of Japanese consumer law.

Tanaka, 35, whose fortune was estimated by Forbes to be $4.3 billion in March 2012, holds a 48.8% stake in Gree, shares of which plummeted 23% Monday on news of the investigation- the largest fall permitted by Tokyo Stock Exchange listing rules. DeNA, another mobile gaming giant and operator of the Mobage mobile games store, which recently signed an agreement with Disney to promote social and mobile gaming, fell 20% on the same day.

Kompugacha, onomatopoeically named for the sound of a prize dropping out of a vending machine, is a system not unlike card collecting which takes place inside games. The games themselves – such as DeNA’s popular Idolm@ster – Cinderella Girls – are free to play, but within the game random items can be purchased for real money from in-game vending machines. Much like baseball cards, it can take many attempts to obtain a “rare” or “ultra-rare” virtual collectible using this system.

The sale of some form of virtual goods is increasingly looked to as a way for the gaming sector to monetize its players, in Japan and elsewhere. Social games like Zynga’s Farmville make money through a mix of advertising and the exchange of virtual gifts between players. Many free-to-play massively multiplayer games sell in-game items which make the gameplay less tiresome (such as horses to facilitate fast movement between locations) – the challenge being to promote the sales of premium items without unbalancing play to the point of alienating the mass of players required to make the game viable. Other items may do nothing more than make the player’s avatar look prettier – “horse armor”, as it often known after the purely cosmetic armor sold to players of Bethesda Softworks’ The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.




via Forbes


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