Chances are you’re on the phone playing a Japanese role-playing game called Brave Frontier, or at least seeing someone on public transportation playing and tapping it frantically. If you’d kept tabs on the game, surely you may have heard of the company called gumi, currently a worldwide rising star in the mobile gaming app scene.
But how much do we know about its enigmatic leader and CEO, Hironao Kunimitsu? We previously talked about Brave Frontier and the way Singapore gumi branch worked, but what about some facts and tidbits about its leader, who will be making an appearance at this year’s Echelon?
Here are a few things you need to know about Hironao Kunimitsu:
1) He’s a world warrior
Or rather, a very travel-savvy person. After graduating from Okayama High School, he spent several years travelling around the world visiting over 30 countries. He’s even studied overseas; he was at Fudan University in China and at Santa Monica College in the United States.
Since then, he’s developed a love for travelling and has been a backpacker for two years. “I love visiting new places and I think there is always a good side in every country.” His favourite spots to visit? Beach resorts.
2) He had a stint as a movie director
In 2004, he worked for a company called Atmovie Inc. He produced films and TV dramas, as well as collaborated with clients like FujiTV. He was also appointed as a company director within the same year.
3) He knows three things to make a successful social game
An excerpt from an earlier gumi piece: “One factor is to create characters or create a view of the world that would resonate with the users. As for the second factor, it is having a unique selling point that no other games have. The last factor is checking quantitative and qualitative data in order to keep the users from being bored and to create events that would excite the users everyday.”
4) His company did stumble once
Back in 2011, gumi focussed on HTML5-coded games instead of the usual native mobile games. He believed that it was the future when compared to PC and iOS/Android portable titles. Of course, he was wrong about it, but the company at least adapted quick and just went on to support native mobile gaming systems.
In hindsight, he said that gumi wouldn’t be reborn like a phoenix and wouldn’t be where it is right now if it wasn’t for the mistakes it made with his HTML-5 prediction. Through that, he follows two distinct work ethics when running the company, with the first being “be the first to try, first to fail, then the first to recover”. His other work ethic? We’ll get to that later.
5) He knows the next big direction mobile games are to take
“I think that mobilising real-time strategy games and reinventing them (for smartphones) will be mobile gaming’s next trend,” said Kunimitsu. He cites Supercell’s Clash of Clans as an example. “I suppose all game genres will be reinvented into the mobile template soon enough. The concept of a JRPG can be transformed for mobile into something like Brave Frontier; what’s to stop (developers from doing that with) other genres?”
6) He is best friends with the Brave Frontier lead
Kunimitsu knows the JRPG’s creator Hisatoshi Hayakashi for a long time. He believed in his friend’s game because “it was an innovative game that I’d never seen before. This triggered me to publish the RPG.”
7) He wasn’t expecting Brave Frontier to go big in America
He said that while Asia’s interests in Japanese role-playing games remain a constant, he finds it hard to get a read on Western gamers due to differences in taste. “The Asia market is easy to estimate because their taste in games are similar to ours. America’s tastes are different in terms of graphics and gameplay aspects.” Still, this result is from his other work creed: “think global, act local”.
8) gumi is “super ready” to go public
A while ago, gumi announced that it’s planning to go IPO and will expand Brave Frontier into a multimedia franchise. Kunimitsu not only believes that the brand is strong, but also because he’s ready to take the company forward to new heights and ventures. He took aspiration from companies like Supercell and Blizzard Entertainment, and figured that he can do the same while being patient about when to strike.
9) He approaches certain questions with a more philosophical outlook
We have figured the best way to analyse a person is by gauging how they answer the old “stuck on the desert island, pick three things” question. Kunimitsu’s answers were interesting: he picked “friendship”, “effort” and “victory”. This isn’t a translation error; he was aware that we had asked for “things” originally.
10) He loves curry udon
He particularly likes this famous Japanese delicacy coupled with dumplings.
So when you’re down in Echelon this June 10 and 11, and if you wish to talk with gumi’s CEO, do keep in mind the points above so that you can break the ice easily. Also, do suggest the best curry udon places for him to try in Singapore.
Echelon 2014 is a two-day Startup, Technology and Business event where Asia’s most innovative startups, early-stage investors and tech industry leaders as well as tech media, gather to celebrate and build Asia’s growing tech industry, as well as make valuable relationships.