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Morita said, “something you could play with friends if you were out drinking, for example.”The company solicited prototypes from outside developers.
The one it chose was from Yoshiki Okamoto, who had created the popular console-era franchise Street Fighter.
Masatoshi Kurosaki, 18, a high school student in Okayama, in western Japan, said he used Line to play with four friends about 80 percent of the time.
In June, the head of the game-development division took over as president.“It was a big bet,” the new leader, Hiroki Morita, said in an interview, of the decision to expand into gaming.
Yet perhaps no game developer has come to the field after a previous rise — and fall — as meteoric as Mixi’s.
Unveiled in February 2004, the same month as Facebook, by a 28-year-old Internet entrepreneur named Kenji Kasahara, its social network quickly attracted a following in Japan.
The Monster Strike app made its debut on Apple’s app store in October 2013, and Mixi spent about million on television commercials and other promotions — an unusually aggressive marketing campaign for a smartphone game.“It was a relief when we saw the numbers” for downloads, Mr. Like many other mobile games, Monster Strike is free to acquire and play, but users can spend money on special characters and to extend their lives when they are wounded in battles or killed.
In the last two months, Mixi has released versions of the Monster Strike app for South Korea, China and the United States, where it has ranked as high as 13th in weekly downloads in i Phone games, according to the app tracker App Annie. Toto, the games consultant, calculates that Monster Strike is “per capita, the most profitable game on the planet.” It helps, he said, that the game began in Japan, where people spend liberally on all kinds of products through their phones.
It was gaining users even after Facebook started a Japanese-language version, in 2008.