Japan's social game firms form self-regulatory body

Posted at 11/09/2012 11:05 AM

TOKYO - Japan's major social game site operators including Gree Inc. and DeNA Co. formed a self-regulatory body Thursday to improve the ways services are provided to users amid growing concern over children incurring exorbitant charges.

The Japan Social Game Association, headed by the presidents of Gree and DeNA, plans to draw up new guidelines next month. Social game site operators will check whether games provided by their platforms meet the guidelines while seeking user feedback.

The association, to be joined by around 50 companies including major game developers, will also offer guidance to young users so they can avoid problems and help companies to cooperate to improve customer support, it said.

"We have received various criticisms and opinions regarding improving the user environment," Gree Chief Executive Officer Yoshikazu Tanaka said at a news conference in Tokyo. Though the companies have responded to the criticism through measures such as setting an upper limit for charges, they should deal with the problems continuously and jointly under a bigger framework, he added.

"Bringing about an environment which can be more clearly understood, that is safer and healthier, will eventually lead to growth of the industry as a whole," Tanaka said.

The formation of the association follows the drawing up of guidelines by social game site operators in May banning a sales method called "complete gacha," in which players collect sets of special game items that are randomly dispensed.

The practice has provoked a public outcry as attempting to collect all of the items in a set requires countless transactions and the spending of large amounts of money.

In a separate move, Gree and Internet portal Yahoo Japan Corp. said they have agreed to work together in areas such as smartphone services, aiming to increase user numbers through collaboration to make products easier to use and more attractive.

Under the business agreement, the two companies will make it possible for users to easily access Gree's game site from Yahoo's front page on smartphones as well as enable users to pay for Gree games through Yahoo's payment settlement scheme, they said.

Yahoo has had a business tie-up with DeNA in areas such as games for personal computers since 2010.

==Kyodo