Gala Inc.

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This article is about the online gaming group based in Japan. For the UK betting shop, bingo and casino operator, see Gala Coral Group.
Gala Inc.
株式会社ガーラ
Type Public
Traded as JASDAQ: 4777
Industry Video game industry
Founded September 3, 1993
Headquarters Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan
Area served North America
Japan
South Korea
Key people Satoru Kikugawa, Group CEO of Gala Inc.
Products Flyff
Rappelz
IL: Soulbringer
Services gPotato
Employees 18 (Gala Inc., as of June, 2011)
453 (Globally, as of March, 2011)
Subsidiaries Gala Innovative Inc. (U.S.A.)
Gala Lab (South Korea)
Gala Japan
Gala Web (Japan)
Gala Pocket (Japan)
Website http://www.gala.jp/

Gala Inc. (株式会社ガーラ Gala Kabushiki gaisha?) is a holding company based in Tokyo, Japan, that administers GALA Group, which is made up of subsidiary companies of Gala Inc. The group of companies embraces three types of business: MMORPG games, web design and data mining. Within the group companies, Gala Lab Corp., established after the merger of Aeonsoft and nFlavor,[1] located in South Korea, develops games for the group's online gaming portal gPotato. GALA Group focuses on developing massively multiplayer online role-playing games and licensing games from primarily Asian developers for a North American, European, Asian and South American audience. To cover local areas, there are Group companies located in the USA, Japan and South Korea.

GALA Group's games are free-to-play so no annual/monthly payment is required; revenue is generated from a micropayment system. Games and their premium item shops can be accessed by the Group's regional gPotato portal sites.

While the majority of GALA Group's business revolves around MMORPG games, not all Group companies are involved in online gaming. Within GALA Group, Gala Web Inc.'s main business is in web design.

In February 2013, Gala-Net, Gala Networks Europe and Gala-Net Brazil were acquired by Webzen.[2]

History[edit]

Early Years[edit]

Gala Inc. was originally founded in September 1993 by Satoru Kikugawa to create an IT company with the goal of bringing people together from around the world. While at Keio University, Kikugawa was an avid event planner where he would rent out clubs in Roppongi and students could gather. He called these events "Gala". With the expansion of the internet in the early nineties, Kikugawa, inspired by his university events, founded Gala Inc. with the goal of bringing people together online.

The early business model of Gala Inc. was in homepage creation. One of Gala Inc.'s first website creations was for the All Japan Pro Wrestling site in 1996. The initial business approach was to create home pages free of charge and then share the advertising revenue. Gala Inc. also set up bulletin boards on sites for visitors to share their thoughts. In February 2000, Gala Inc. acquired the company RIS Inc., which was then renamed to Gala Web Inc. While Gala Inc. acts as the headquarters for GALA Group, Gala Web continues to develop websites and systems for clients in Japan. Gala Inc.'s early business model eventually led to Gala's gaming business model, where its games are free and sales are generated from micropayments.

Globalization[edit]

In November 2005, Gala-Net Inc. opened as the North American subsidiary and online games publisher with its office in Sunnyvale, California. In October 2006, Gala-Net established a wholly owned subsidiary, Gala Networks Europe based out of Dublin, Ireland.

Also in 2006, South Korean game developers Aeonsoft Inc. and nFlavor Corp. joined GALA Group. Aeonsoft's flagship game was Flyff, while nFlavor brought the Rappelz MMO into the Group. The two game developing companies would later merge to become Gala Lab Corp. in July 2010.[3] In December 2007, another subsidiary was created after Gala Inc. split off its buzz research section to create a new Group company named Gala Buzz Inc. The company's role was to offer data mining and information analysis services for corporate clients through its e-mining and buzz reports. The company was sold to Hotlink Inc. in May 2012.[4]

In May 2011, Gala Inc. announced it will enter the smartphone market. The company will launch a smartphone social game platform and the development of games for said platform. Gala Pocket Inc. was established to operate the gPumpkin platform and Gala Lab Corp. and 3rd party developers will develop the games.[5] Gala Inc. also expanded in 2011 by opening a branch office in Seoul, South Korea that has been tasked with handling the technical issues across all of GALA Group. In May 2012, that branch was transferred to Gala Lab also located in Seoul.[6]

Subsidiaries[edit]

Game Publishing[edit]

The companies publish games by the Gala Lab development teams in Seoul and other third party developers. The publishing companies in GALA Group are:

  • Gala Innovative Inc. (California, U.S.A.) - was in the mobile games industry doing both publishing and developing, but is currently dormant. [1]
  • Gala Japan Inc. ガーラジャパン (Tokyo, Japan) - Gala Japan is the publisher for games in the Japanese market and was established in April 2007. Games localized into Japanese offered through their gPotato.jp portal site include Iris Online, Flyff, Rappelz, Castle of Heroes and IL: Soulbringer.
  • Gala Lab Corp. (Seoul, South Korea) - Gala Lab was created by the 2010 merger of former GALA Group companies Aeonsoft Inc. and nFlavor Corp.[7] The merged company now publishes games for the Korean market through their gPotato.kr portal site and also develops games for GALA Group as well as third party publishers.
  • Gala Pocket Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) - Gala Pocket is GALA Group's smartphone and tablet game publisher.

Game Development[edit]

  • Gala Lab Corp. (Seoul, South Korea) - Gala Lab Corp. was created by the 2010 merger of former GALA Group companies Aeonsoft Inc. and nFlavor Corp. Aeonsoft Inc., founded in 2002 in Seoul, developed the game Flyff, meaning "Fly for Fun". nFlavor Corp., founded in 2003 in Seoul, developed the games Rappelz, Street Gears and IL: Soulbringer.
  1. Flyff, or "Fly for Fun", is the first MMORPGs to introduce free roaming flight.[8] Flyff is a party-oriented MMO game where no character can do everything and efficient play requires working together in groups to level up by defeating monsters. One distinctive feature is its flying system; flying is the normal method of transportation for characters above level 20. The game offers a vast amount of content that is constantly being updated, and it caters to audiences both young and old. In June 2004, the game was awarded the "Best Game of the Year" from South Korea's Ministry of Culture.[9][10]
  2. Rappelz is set in a medieval fantasy world, dominated by three races: the Deva, who represent light, the Asura, who represent darkness, and the Gaia, humans that possess an affinity with nature. Each major installment of the game is referred to as an "Epic". The current installment, which is the second part of Epic VII, is called "Epic VII: Dimensions". The game was also published in Arabic for MENA gamers by the Emirati company Game Power 7. The game was released under a different title known as Hope of Nations (Arabic: أمل الشعوب‎), and was launched on March 16, 2009.[11]
  3. Street Gears is based on a persistent manga-style universe. It is a massively multiplayer roller game where players can challenge each other's in races or trick contests. As for how to use the tricks, it's related to the context and environment of the game. This means that some tricks can only be used while skating on the ground and/or during a jump, while others can be used while in the air, on walls or when there's a barrier that requires bypassing.
  4. Eternal Blade is a fantasy/anime MMORPG with a new concept of “Postmodern RPG” and Pioh System where Piohs (pet-type creatures) evolve at three stages that aid the player during the course of the game. The game also has a randomized map system to add to gameplay variety.

Website Design[edit]

  • Gala Web Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) - Gala Web Inc. was previously a systems development company called RIS Inc. when it was acquired by Gala Inc. in February 2000. Gala Web became the website and community systems provider for GALA Group, which was previously handled by Gala Inc. The company offers a wide range of website and community services, such as:
  1. Cyber Cops - Cyber Cops is an automatic moderation service that filters out objectionable content. Clients work with Gala Web to create a list of objectionable or negative words for the Cyber Cops program to search for on various websites, forums and blogs. When selected words are found, the client is alerted to where and when the content was posted about their company.
  2. W-Cops - W-Cops adds to the Cyber Cops automatic search and filtration system looking for objectionable content by adding Gala Web employees to manually search websites and forums. This adds an additional layer of quality and offers a better understanding of content being written about their clients.

Game Portal[edit]

To promote and publish games, GALA Group uses its gPotato game portal. People can play or download games from the gPotato portal for free. gPotato services a large variety of games from the casual flash games/browser-based games to downloadable client-based games. The gPotato portal first launched in November 2005 in the USA. The gPotato portal and brand is one of the main assets of GALA Group. Currently, gPotato portals are serviced by two subsidiary companies of Gala Inc.

Portal Languages Company
gPotato.jp Japanese Gala Japan Inc.
gPotato.kr Korean Gala Lab Corp.

Community[edit]

As of September 2011, the global gPotato community has over 20 million registered members[5][12] playing on 18 games globally. As with all free-to-play games or gaming communities, the number of registered users has to be differentiated from:

  • Unique users; i.e. the number of persons actually registered as differentiated from the number of accounts (a same user can make several accounts, all counted as a "registered user").
  • Active users (users returning regularly).
  • Paying users (since all of gPotato's games are F2P, it's possible to play without paying anything).

There are no public numbers for unique, active, or paying users.

Portal Features[edit]

gPotato portals have a variety of features. Each gPotato portal is designed and maintained based on the cultural trends where that gPotato portal is serviced so the features vary on each gPotato portal site. In general, the portals offer:

  • Profile page
  • Achievements
  • gPotato balance and fill-up

Currency[edit]

The virtual currency is called gPotatoes. The gPotatoes can be used to obtain virtual game items via a premium item shop. Other users normally would not have access to these items or would have to spend more time in-game to obtain them. gPotatoes can be purchased using credit cards, PayPal, charging through the mobile phone, through gPotato pre-paid cards or through earning free gPotatoes by taking online surveys. Payment methods differ from each gPotato portal based on the regional payment options available.

Games[edit]

Games Developed[edit]

Title Developer Genre First Released
Flyff Gala Lab Client-based MMO 2002
Rappelz Gala Lab Client-based MMO 2006
Eternal Blade Gala Lab Client-based MMO 2010

Games Formerly Licensed[edit]

Title Developer Genre First Released
ROSE Online Triggersoft Client-based MMO 2005
Canaan Online XPEC Entertainment Browser-based MMO 2008
Castle of Heroes Snail Games Browser-based MMO 2009
Dragonica Barunson Interactive Side-scrolling MMO 2009
AIKA Online JoyImpact Client-based MMO 2010
Vandia Breaker Namco Bandai Browser-based MMO 2010
Allods Online Nival Client-based MMO 2010
KungFu Hero 9wee Browser-based MMO 2010
Terra Militaris Snail Games Browser-based MMO 2010
Age of Wulin Snail Games Client-based MMO 2013

Awards[edit]

  • In 2008, Gala Inc. placed 12th on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list for Japan.[13]
  • In 2008, Gala Inc. placed 135th on the Deloitte Fast 500 list for the Asia Pacific region.[14]
  • In 2009, Gala Inc. placed 24th on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list for Japan.[15]
  • In 2010, Gala Inc. placed 41st on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list for Japan.[16]
  • In 2010, GALA Group CEO and Gala Inc. CEO Mr. Satoru Kikugawa was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for the Japan region.[17]

Insider Trading Incident[edit]

In 2006, three Gala Inc. employees were directed to pay fines for insider trading when they purchased stock with insider knowledge that Gala had secured a deal with Dentsu.[18] On January 13, 2006, it was announced that the three were the first employees in Japan ordered to pay fines under a new law created by the Financial Services Agency of Japan.[19] Group CEO Mr. Kikugawa gave a public apology regarding the insider trading. Gala also released a statement outlining the changes to their compliance management system and procedures put in place to prevent insider trading from happening again.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Aeonsoft and nFlavor Merger". Gala Lab Corp. June 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-05. 
  2. ^ "More about gPotato & Webzen". gPotato.eu. 6 February 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-16. 
  3. ^ "단독키쿠가와 갈라그룹 회장한국서 번 돈, 한국에 쓰겠다" (in Korean). ZDNet Corp. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  4. ^ "Notice of Divestiture of Subsidiary" (PDF). Gala Inc. 25 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-04. 
  5. ^ a b "GALA Group to launch smartphone social game platform" (PDF). Gala Inc. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-09. 
  6. ^ "Notice of Transfer of Branch" (PDF). Gala Inc. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 2012-06-04. 
  7. ^ "Gala Lab history" (in Korean). Gala Lab Corp. June 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  8. ^ "Flyff news". MMORPG.com. 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  9. ^ "프리프등 3편 6월의 우수게임으로 선정" (in Korean). iNews24. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 2011-06-04. 
  10. ^ "대한민국 게임대상을 향해 뛴다눈길끄는 출품작" (in Korean). Naver. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 2011-06-05. 
  11. ^ "Arabic Rappelz". Game Power 7. October 2009. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 
  12. ^ "オンラインゲームポータルサイト「gPotato」累計会員数 2,000 万人突破" (PDF) (in Japanese). Gala Inc. 29 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  13. ^ "Technology Fast50 Japan 2008 Winners Report" (PDF) (in Japanese). Deloitte. 7 January 2009. Retrieved 2011-06-01. 
  14. ^ "Lighting the way, Deloitte Technology Fast 500 Asia Pacific 2008 Ranking and CEO Survey" (PDF). Deloitte. 2008. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  15. ^ "Deloitte Technology Fast50 News Release" (PDF) (in Japanese). Deloitte. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  16. ^ "Deloitte Technology Fast50 News Release" (PDF) (in Japanese). Deloitte. 17 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  17. ^ "EOY 2010 Japan日本代表が決定" (in Japanese). Ernst & Young. December 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  18. ^ "ガーラ社長、インサイダー取引を謝罪" (in Japanese). StockWeather. 9 February 2006. Retrieved 2011-05-15. 
  19. ^ "課徴金制度を初適用へ インサイダーで証券監視委" (in Japanese). 47 News. 13 January 2006. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  20. ^ "当社のインサイダー取引未然防止の改善策につい" (PDF) (in Japanese). Gala Inc. 16 January 2006. Retrieved 2011-06-01.