For how much sway it has in overall global mobile market, the Japanese App Store remains a relatively inscrutable sector for Western publishers. Just as games like Monster Strike (Free), Colopl Rune Story (Free), and Million Arthur have failed to make much of an impact outside of Asia, so too have many of the usual Western suspects struggled in Japan. There are lots of reasons for that, but the market is so valuable that in spite of numerous misses, no one seems ready to give up trying just yet.
The latest aggressive push comes from none other than Blizzard’s Hearthstone (Free), which launched in Japan in October of 2015. While the quality of the game, the familiar branding, and Blizzard’s name value essentially guaranteed the game’s success in places like the United States, South Korea, and many other countries, Japan represents a somewhat unique situation. Historically, Japan hasn’t shown much of an interest in Blizzard’s games. They received poor Japanese localizations and were largely PC-only releases in a country where PC gaming was a tiny niche until quite recently. Thus, while Warcraft is a huge brand in most of the world, in Japan it’s relatively unknown. So how do you market a card game with an unknown brand in a market already flush with homegrown card game successes? Well, like this, apparently:
It’s actually quite a clever ad. Many Japanese companies follow a very strict hierarchy when it comes to greetings and other pleasantries. If someone is leaving the office for the day, it’s customary to say “otsukare-sama desu" to them, which translates roughly to “you worked hard (and must be very tired)". If they’re senior to you, you should also give a bow. Often, they’ll return the greeting in kind, but the company boss isn’t really expected to and often won’t.
With that context, you can probably get what’s happening here. The president of the company gets out of his car and everyone stops what they’re doing to bow and greet him. When his eyes meet those of the young woman (who by her uniform is probably a regular office worker), he suddenly bows and greets her, throwing the whole universe into disarray. The commercial then states that in Hearthstone, you can turn the tables with a single successful move. The boss is shown losing a game to the office worker, and then, mirroring the opening, holding the door of the car open for her.
The emphasis seems to be on how a well-laid plan can flip the game on its head in Hearthstone. It also shows, in a subtle way, that people of any age, gender, or social class can enjoy playing the game with others. Will it be enough to create a reversal of fortune for Hearthstone in the Japanese App Store, where it’s currently sitting at 87th place in the Top Grossing charts? I guess we’ll get those answers soon, as the commercial just started airing today. What do you all think of the ad, friends?
Source: Serkan Toto