Japan's Gree to expand game platform to HTML5, avoid app store fees

The firm said it will also launch a new browser optimized for its new platform, which will accept PayPal and credit cards

Japan's Gree, which runs a large mobile gaming platform, said Wednesday it will expand to include games that run entirely inside web browsers, a move that will free its titles from fees and requirements imposed by app stores run by companies such as Apple and Google.

Gree said it will expand its "Gree Platform," which has about 200 million users worldwide, to include games distributed in HTML5, the programming language supported by modern browsers, with a beta version due out this month. This means users won't have to download apps to play those games, accessing them directly through the web, and developers will be able to quickly publish new games and updates.

The move will allow Gree to take more control of its own titles and those provided by developers using its platform, which include major names like Capcom, Namco Bandai, Konami and Ubisoft. The company said it will also roll out new payment options to global users, including credit cards and PayPal, for transactions that occur outside of the existing app stores.

The company's platform includes titles from franchises such as FIFA Soccer, Resident Evil, Metal Gear and Assassin's Creed, as well as Gree-developed titles including "Zombie Jombie."

While web-based apps can't be as advanced as software titles, many Gree titles don't require advanced graphics or processing. Gree said its main goal is to make it easier for developers to access foreign markets.

"This will mean easier globalization for our (game) providers, especially our Japanese providers," said Gree spokeswoman Amiko Tomita.

Gree and the developers on its platform will also be able to avoid charges and restrictions imposed by app store operators, and avoid dealing with the various stores that exist worldwide. The two biggest mobile application stores, Apple's App Store and Google Play, charge 30 percent of revenues, and Apple approves all apps that run on its devices.

Microsoft also operates a "Windows Phone Store" for apps that run on its mobile operating system, and many independent Android app stores exist, while some devices lock users into downloading from vendor-specific app stores.

Gree said it will also develop a new web browser that is optimized for its platform.

The aggressive Japanese company has a stated goal of 1 billion users. It launched its global app platform in May, incorporating the assets of U.S. platform operator OpenFeint, which it acquired last year.

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