Namco Bandai Hits App Store Milestone, Launches New Facebook Initiative

Veteran publisher Namco Bandai says it is making strides in digital markets, as Namco Networks on Monday announced 23 million App Store downloads, and Namco Arcade arrives on Facebook.
Namco Bandai is yet another packaged goods publisher that is trying to make more headway in non-traditional digital markets such as social networks and digital downloads. On Monday, U.S.-based Namco Networks said that it surpassed 23 million downloads on Apple's App Store for iPhone and iPod Touch, across both free and paid titles. Namco Networks said it is averaging 36,450 downloads per day since the App Store's opening in June 2008. However, a rep for Namco Networks confirmed to Gamasutra that the total download amount includes both free and paid downloads, although the company did not immediately have a ratio at hand. Namco has partially relied on popular franchises born in the arcade and home consoles in order to gain a foothold in digital markets, with App Store renditions of Pac-Man, Mr. Driller, Galaga and Ace Combat. The company has also released new properties such as Garters & Ghouls and Isaac Newton’s Gravity on the App Store. The firm expects to continue its expansion into the App Store market with 20 more games to launch on the service this year. "With over 100,000 applications available and three billion downloaded apps, the App Store is booming," said Jonathan Kromrey, general manager of Apple Games for Namco Networks. In a separate announcement, Namco said it relaunched its social networking efforts on the 350 million-user-strong Facebook with Namco Arcade. A Namco Bandai Networks Europe statement said the Facebook app hosts games including Time Crisis Elite, Pac-Man: Championship Edition and others. The games are mobile-based, although they are playable via Facebook with a Java plug-in. Players can then use Facebook's social networking features to spread word about the games that they play. The titles do not feature unlimited play sessions, however. Players can only use the games for a predetermined amount of time per session, although Namco provides a link to a site where players can buy full versions of the games. "The ability to discover and share games easily will be a key driver for the mobile games market in the future," said Namco Bandai Networks Europe president Barry O’Neill. The launch of Namco Arcade follows a March 2009 initiative that had Namco Bandai release J2Play demo versions of Dig Dug and Pac-Man on Facebook. Customers had the option to buy full versions of the games. Other traditionally packaged goods-focused companies are paying considerably more attention to social games. A few examples include Electronic Arts' acquisition of social game maker PlayFish for $300 million last year, 2K Games' and Firaxis' announcement of Civilization Network for Facebook, and Atari's Facebook app Photo Sauce.

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