So you arrive at this party and interact with the host. What do you want her to do: guide you in and introduce you to the rest of the gang or throw you to the wolves and leave you to your own defenses? What makes a good host?

GREE’s DNA is in social networks. Within a month of launch, the Japanese company amassed 10,000 users. Within three years, 1 million. In six, 23.8 million users.

After that milestone, GREE set up shop in San Francisco. And it didn’t do it quietly. Actress Kelly Hu often talks about when her reign as Miss Teen USA ended and she arrived in Los Angeles, taking out an ad in the trades trumpeting her arrival. Most of the reaction was, “And… who are you?” But GREE’s grand announcements were followed by several notable acquisitions and an appearance at E3.

However the company realized what many international companies fail to comprehend: the US market is unique unto its own. Chances are what works at home won’t work here.

Wisely, GREE has neither returned home with its tail between its legs nor attempted to impose their business model on the American market. And with its social games providing the foray into the US, their continuous reevaluation is ever more essential. That sector is ever in flux and as we’ve seen with recent socio-political happenings surrounding the gaming community, the fluidity of the industry requires developers and publishers to be aware. And perhaps respond.

As mentioned, GREE knows how to throw a party. They realized at the get-go that they wouldn’t be able to compete in the social network sector. But that doesn’t mean they’ll leave their DNA behind. In talking with the press reps for the company, GREE is progressing toward ushering its community into the conversation. Every site listens to the forums, but GREE’s approach is more interactive and with more commitment. And that involving of its guests—to keep the metaphor going—impacts the company’s internal structure. They’re not afraid to implement not only the suggestions but the users themselves into the development of their games and machinery of their company. Will users eventually become the hosts, what shape will the company ultimately take, will advocacy and socio-political comprehension of the gaming industry as the last bastion of misogyny lead to GREE’s formation as the one safer community to go? Those are questions as fluid as the gaming industry itself. But at least GREE is guiding the conversation and not throwing its user to the wolves.

By virtue of its attentiveness, GREE may just be a party that you want to attend.

 

At GDC Next which revs up big today with panels, an exhibit floor, and networking parties, GREE representatives will be on hand to tell you about their offerings and their community. And you can bet they’ll listen.

 

–Ken Choy

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