Earlier this week GREE announced that it was scuttling its office in Vancouver, British Columbia and discontinuing development, effective immediately. GREE International is the western arm of GREE Inc., one of the giants of the Japanese mobile gaming industry.
As Gamasutra reports, this week’s closure comes amidst declining revenue for GREE. Andrew Sheppard, the COO who joined GREE International just nine months ago, explained in a blog post that the overwhelming success of games like Clash of Clans has raised marketing and development budgets across the industry.
In response, his plan calls for GREE employees to “[shift] their mindset from managing breadth to delivering depth." In other words, expect GREE to double down on a slimmer roster of games: “We have decided to focus our talent on building new gameplay within our biggest franchises and on elevating our commitment to service excellence," Sheppard writes.
While GREE has partnered with well-known publishers in the past—notably for Assassin’s Creed Memories, a free-to-play card battler that doesn’t seem to be on the App Store any more—the company doesn’t seem particularly popular outside of Japan. It would help if all of their in-house games didn’t mostly riff on the same base-building theme and directly compete with, say, Gameloft: why play Modern War (Free) when there’s Modern Combat?
GREE International still has an office in San Francisco, however, and their European operations seem unaffected. A GREE representative told me that while they cannot disclose how many people lost their jobs in the closure, “we are bringing some people to San Francisco and helping to place others at partner companies."
That same rep told me that “no games are directly impacted as a result of the studio shut down." This despite Sheppard’s own blog post, which says that GREE is “discontinuing the development of all mobile games from [the Vancouver] studio." It’s possible that GREE Vancouver was simply working on updates, however: most of GREE International’s catalogue received updates in the last few weeks.