"Ganapati, which has a stand at ICE stand S2 325, will be hoping to entice operators with its range of Japanese-flavoured games and with Japan finally legalising casinos late last year – something of a major breakthrough in the country, albeit in land-based – it brings into focus the enthusiasm for Japanese-style gaming.
So says chief executive Mitsuya Fujimoto. He points out that gambling is deeply ingrained in the Japanese culture, and is seen as a form of entertainment rather than a route to untold riches. “The Japanese entertainment industry is one of the largest and most innovative in the world, and is internationally recognised and celebrated,” he adds. “By combining entertainment and gambling we are able to create products like fighting, social and instant-win games, as well as themes that are unique to the Japanese culture.”
Naturally, there is a connection with the video-gaming sector given the Japanese expertise in this area. “Japan has long been at the forefront of video game development, and is home to pioneers such as Nintendo and Sega,” says Fujimoto. “They were the beating heart of the industry’s golden era, and paved the way for the developers dominating the market today.
But he adds that prior to producing video games, the likes of Nintendo and Sega built arcade machines, and their first video games were iterations of these products. “While the games have moved on a long way since then, they still contain the same DNA as the first titles to hit the market back in the early ‘70s.”
Then, of course, there is manga and anime, Japan’s distinctive contribution to modern global culture. Fujimoto says that using the styles of the two forms has proved an effective way of enhancing Ganapati’s own games.
“To achieve our visuals and graphics we have been working closely with creatives and pioneering designers from studios in Japan and Hollywood.”
As for the big question of whether the Japanese market will ever open up to online gambling, Fujimoto says it is only a matter of time. “Licensing casinos in the country is a big step forward, and shows progress is moving in the right direction,” Fujimoto says. “But these projects will take a number of years to be completed, and when a period of settling in and evaluation is taken into account, it will be at least another five years before discussions about online gambling gather pace. It is something we encourage, of course, but we are realistic about timescales.”
In the meantime, Fujimoto believes Ganapati has plenty to aim for in the rest of the world where, he says, the casino and slot content is lacking in energy and invention. “There is next to no differentiation,” he says. “We think we can produce a large portfolio of games that are individual and unique, and stand out from the crowd, using Japanese technology to ensure the mechanics and flow of the game are authentic, another point of difference.”
Ganapati is at stand S2 325 at ICE Totally Gaming where it can demonstrate its games to interested parties. If you wish to arrange an appointment, contact Richard Hogg at firstname.lastname@example.org