Social games played on smartphones are hogging the attention at this year's Tokyo video-game exhibition, boasting new ways of making money by selling "virtual" goodies, not the usual expensive machines and software packages.
Gree Inc., a social networking service that began just seven years ago in the founder's living room, was the big star at the annual Tokyo Game Show, with its first booth ever. The show previewed to media Thursday ahead of its opening to the public later this week at Makuhari Messe hall in this Tokyo suburb.
Its stardom underlines the arrival of so-called "social games" aimed at casual users passing the time on smartphones and tablet devices rather than the sophisticated plots, imagery and controls found on gaming devices.
With Gree, mobile games are an additional feature to its social networking service, similar to those already common in the U.S. and other nations with Facebook and Twitter, although those don't focus as much on gaming.
Yoshikazu Tanaka, the 34-year-old founder and chief executive of Gree, said his business model of attracting massive users was similar to other sectors such as computers, fast-fashion and autos, in which prices were rapidly coming down despite high quality.
He said he was serious about expanding busin