Japanese gamers have been stunned to learn that the market cap of Puzzle & Dragons maker GungHo now exceeds that of Nintendo, prompting both despair and incredulity and perhaps explaining about the Japanese gaming industry’s rapid decline into idolising card and puzzle games for phones.

GungHo Online Entertainment, now known almost exclusively for Puzzle & Dragons but also once famed as the creator of Ragnarok Online and perhaps not coincidentally run by the brother of SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, recently made headlines after their stock appreciated so rapidly that the market capitalisation of the company exceeded that of Nintendo.

Nintendo narrowly has since narrowly recovered its lead with GungHo now standing at at 1.615 trillion yen to Nintendo’s 1.63, but the two appear likely to be trading places for some time (or at least until GungHo crashes or incites further speculative mania):


Social gaming competitors Gree and DeNA are worth a pathetic 0.23 and 0.33 trillion respectively, whilst Sega is still worth 0.76.

Sony currently stands at 2.1 trillion, so there is still a chance that the unthinkable will happen.

So great was the frenzy of buying that the exchange ordered a temporary halt to trading of their shares after they appreciated 28.8% to ¥1,342,000 each over the week, and presently trade at ¥1,470,000.

Puzzle & Dragons itself, a F2P “puzzle RPG” themed social game (although its creators insist it is an “online game”) for the Android and iOS platforms, has enjoyed huge success, now having racked up over 11 million downloads and, amazingly, the CEDEC Game Design Award for 2012.

The title’s ground-breaking gameplay in more detail:

GungHo’s stock has sky-rocketed an incredible 8000% in the last year on the back of this and little else:


This has prompted more sensible observers to wonder just when and how spectacularly Japan’s social gaming bubble will burst, not least with fellow Japanese social gaming giants Gree and DeNA having already suffered huge collapses in stock valuation:



The fate of Zynga also tends to suggest they may be somewhat behind the barbarian markets, but catching up fast:


Online there is near near universal loathing for social games and incomprehension over why anyone would play them, let alone spend millions of yen a month on them as the top ranked players reportedly do – along with more than a little concern at the toll a social gaming bubble could take on the already enervated Japanese gaming market:

“Are social games the only ones making money these days?”

“Yes yes. If they are still around in 20 years I’ll hand it to them.”

“What is even fun about these monthly billed games anyway?”

“It is not like they are competing with Nintendo in the first place though.”

“Hardly. The Wii and DS had all the light users, but now they have been taken by Gree, Mobage and GungHo.”

“Compared to the likes of Nintendo trust in their brand is nothing. It’ll be fun watching how far they fall when it comes.”

“Wasn’t it Gree who were bragging ‘we know how to destroy Nintendo?’ – and GungHo came along and did it before them…”

“Poor Gree…”

“GungHo is doing great even as Nintendo is on the way down! I remember when everyone was bashing RO, but it seems they knew what they were doing.”

“Remember, Nintendo’s market cap has really shrunk in the last few years.”

“Puzzle Dragon’s growth is spectacular, but with no real characters or anything it will be extremely tough maintaining its popularity a few years on. They have no Mario, Pikachu or Zelda type characters to market or create new works with.”

“Shame Nintendo didn’t buy them when their stock was worth something.”

“The whole marketing strategy is something they perfected with RO a decade ago. But back then there weren’t all these hordes of commoners and casuals ready to pile in. They just managed to hook all the commoners with smartness into the whole online gaming thing, so it’s big.”

“GungHo at present: RO is long since finished, and just mocks its remaining users now. ECO: has the best average per-user expenditure in the industry. PazuDora: Has users spending on a vast scale. Keri Hime Sweets: easy to manage if with light users.

“No, I don’t see any commoners playing a masochistic game like RO somehow…”

The only people bashing GungHo these days are bitter old RO players!”

“And yet RO2 sunk without trace.”

“I am saying there is something wrong with this whole picture. No normal investor should touch this stock unless they want to get seriously burned, it is in the throes of a massive speculative bubble. Puzzle & Dragon was made by a team of 20, is a 20 man department worth a trillion yen? Something is obviously wrong here.”

“Right, it is pretty obvious.”

“The whole stock valuation is 100% speculative at this point. I don’t want to get burned, no way would I touch it.”

“At this very moment a great many developers are getting orders from their bosses to ‘make something like Puzzle & Dragons,’ count on it.”

“SoftBank capped out at 20 trillion yen in 2000. Now they are worth 5, it’s the same pattern.”

“They got a hit with RO, then slumped, now they have a hit with PazuDora, and got pumped.”

    Post Comment »
    Sort by: Date | Score
    Avatar of Accelerator
    Comment by Accelerator
    14:41 15/05/2013 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    I've never even heard of Gungho..

    Avatar of Castian
    Comment by Castian
    17:11 15/05/2013 # ! Quality (+0.8)

    I've never even heard of Social Gaming...

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:59 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)


    Comment by Anonymous
    20:50 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've never even heard of society...

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:01 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Can't take my usamimi off you.

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:01 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I can't hear you!

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:06 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Im deaf so I cant hear anything

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:04 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've never even heard of hearing...

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:24 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    That's unheard of.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:12 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    my twat itches

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:43 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I've never heard of anything...

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:32 15/05/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Those are not real games.

    Avatar of Kelly Overholser
    Comment by Kelly Overholser
    14:23 12/05/2014 # ! Neutral (0)

    While P&D has a pretty significant pay-to-win aspect, I can definitely say it's a "real" game. Sure, it's a match-three puzzle game (although with quite a few changes from the bejweled/candy crush "every move must make a match" thing), but there's no way you could insist that it's not a game at all.

    Avatar of Daniel Park
    Comment by Daniel Park
    09:40 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    those figures and graphs above may disagree with you :P

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:50 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Well, looks like these nobodies managed to corner a market of deluded and otherwise talentless players that don't know what real games are.

    Comment by Anonymous

    "Real" video games.

    You mean other than those fake ones, the ones you can't play that don't exist.

    Come on, what the hell is wrong with you? Not everyone is interested in JRPG and FPS and RTS stuff. A video game is a video game. Go get a slice of reality, mister hardcore.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:51 17/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Tetris has a great story... oh wait

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:10 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Real videogames were fun, had a story and it's main interest was making a great game, not getting huge amounts of money by selling to the retard market.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:46 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    The poster above me is right, "real" games are games with gameplay that exist for gameplay's sake.

    Social games and all that other bullshit, have no such thing as gameplay that's made to be fun or challenging. The only "gameplay" in social games is carefully engineered only to work if you keep feeding it money, and even then it's an empty, vapid experience.

    Even old arcade games, some of which were extremely difficult on purpose just to get you to put in more coins, had gameplay you could get good at and beat, and eventually finish the game on one credit.

    Social games are SPECIFICALLY engineered to eliminate even that. They are SPECIFICALLY engineered to remove all gameplay. No amount of skill is going to help you beat them, they just become more and more soul-deadening and pointless over time until you finally break down and either buy shit ingame, or bother a friend to come and help you with something.

    It's fucking genius on a business level, these social "games" are automatic self-multiplying money making machines. If you try one, you'll understand. There is no argument to be had. They are not games, that's a fact. Because games require gameplay.

    These things are "schemes".

    Avatar of Kelly Overholser
    Comment by Kelly Overholser
    14:25 12/05/2014 # ! Neutral (0)

    I have to ask, have you played P&D? While it has a lot of the "social gaming" aspects, and there's a lot of pay-to-win crap, it's definitely a real game. Sure, it's a match-three puzzle game, and it's not going to tell a gripping story or anything along those lines, but it's far from being "not a game at all".

    06:57 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I never heard of them either ,they sound like some horribly spammy company who would install malware on your PC.

    Avatar of Yourtime
    Comment by Yourtime
    03:40 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    me either not lol, I thought actually gravity (korean company) made RO

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:11 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    It seems they bought gravity 5 years ago.

    Comment by Anonymous
    18:18 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    I Only Know Gung Ho When I played Dokuro on Vita

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:13 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    They were also the guys behind Ragnarok Online.

    Avatar of Myballz
    Comment by Myballz
    04:58 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    They also acquired Grasshopper Manufacture.

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:39 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    They made Ragnarok? All is not lost then. Ragnarok was a solid game back in it'd day.

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:19 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Plus, Ragnarok Online 2 sucks because instead of being different from WoW, it is trying so very very hard to be WoW. I have no idea what the fuck they were thinking.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:21 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    cept RO2 sucks complete ass, makes you wonder what happened to all the magic

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:46 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Gravity developed Ragnarok Online. Gungho is its parent company as well as the distributor/publisher.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:00 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not to mention that they fired pretty much all of the original RO staff many years ago.

    Avatar of Busy
    Comment by Busy
    02:01 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not to mention that they fired pretty much all of the original RO staff many years ago.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:35 15/05/2013 # ! Good (+0.8)

    What is a social game?

    Comment by Anonymous
    21:40 15/05/2013 # ! Good (+0.8)

    They're crappy "games" (for an extremely generous definition of "game") that idiots play on Facebook and phones while spending more on microtransactions than they would on a proper game, but that's not important right now.

    What is important is that the social gaming industry is about to collapse like a house of cards, and the cards are made in China.

    06:59 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I'm expecting a crash similar to the dot com crash of 2000.

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:30 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    "and the cards are made in China."

    So they will explode when they collapse right? I certainly hope so. :D

    Avatar of Kelly Overholser
    Comment by Kelly Overholser
    14:26 12/05/2014 # ! Neutral (0)

    Most social games are crap, but P&D actually has gameplay to back it up. Not as much as other games and there's a lot of grindy nonsense and P2W crap, but I wouldn't say you'd have to be generous to call it a game.

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:23 15/05/2013 # ! Good (+0.7)

    the addictive crappy games that people play on facebook and phones

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:35 15/05/2013 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    the crappy games that addicted casuals play on facebook and phones


    Avatar of Myballz
    Comment by Myballz
    05:00 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Casual games any non-gamers can play which was there target market for a good reason.

    Comment by Anonymous
    23:43 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    nah, never heard of it

    06:58 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Crappy but I never found them very addictive.

    Comment by Anonymous
    Avatar of warjoke
    Comment by warjoke
    21:39 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Games for the anti-social.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:13 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Games for casuals.

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:28 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    A miserable pile of nickel-and-dime microtransactions.

    But enough talk, HAVE AT YOU!

    Comment by Anonymous
    01:07 02/07/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Nooooo! This cannot be! NOOOOOOOOOO!

    Avatar of Not Sure
    Comment by Not Sure
    20:02 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Garbage that could potentially ruin the gaming industry for real gamers should corporate greed overpower artistic creativity.

    I don't mind the companies I love using "social games" to make money, but I fear their focus shifting to only "social games".

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:15 15/05/2013 # ! Good (+0.8)

    Surely, they have nowhere to go but up! I mean, look at the sudden rise of disco that keeps growing every year.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:04 15/05/2013 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Social Gaming is the cancer to the REAL gaming systems.

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:18 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    More proof that you make money by making stuff for the common plebian.

    Granted, Nintendo isn't exactly at full potential with the Wii U being shit for a while to come. I patiently await the next smash bros...

    Comment by Anonymous
    06:59 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    They should have made it use dual Wii remotes as its controller with one having an anolog stick and the other having the standard ABXY buttons. Would have catered to both audiences much better than the current gimmick.

    Avatar of Yamato
    Comment by Yamato
    20:31 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    An irony must be noted in the fact that so many people bash on Nintendo, and yet one of their top system-sellers is a crossover featuring all of their IPs that these same people often claim to be too good for.

    Anyway, Smash Bros. still seems a good ways off, considering no release date has been announced at this point, so I'm hoping the Wii U's sales pick up earlier than that. Pikmin 3 should certainly help this summer.

    Avatar of Conduit
    Comment by Conduit
    23:35 15/05/2013 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    People bash Nintendo because they claim they want to focus on making gaming consoles and then build their systems around gimmicky bullshit designed solely to woo non-gamers.

    When Nintendo decides to stop trying to suck the casual teat and actually get back to making game consoles for gamers people will stop bashing them.

    Well, except for the dudebros, but no one cares what they think.

    Avatar of Conduit
    Comment by Conduit
    06:10 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)


    Rumble packs were an attempt by consoles to cash in on the PC joystick force feedback craze. So that gimmick was aimed at gamers, not casuals.

    Further, theres a huge difference between adding a gimmick as an extra feature, like rumble packs, and building your entire game console around a gimmick like motion controls, or tablet controllers.

    07:02 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    The Rumble pack appeared on the N64 first and then everyone had to copy it.
    Though the concept of force feed back is fairly old dating back to arcade machines in the late 80s.

    Comment by Anonymous
    02:39 16/05/2013 # ! Neutral (0)

    Rumble pack was a silly gimmick for Star Fox 64 before it became standard, some "gimmicks" catch on some don't

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