Exclusive News: Former Microsoft XBox Manager Joins Sparter Advisory Board
During last week’s E3 Business and Media Summit in Santa Monica, Gaming Today had an opportunity to sit down with Dan Kelly, CEO of Sparter Inc. and Yoshi-Hiro Maruyama, former General Manager of Microsoft Japan’s XBox Division and Square executive to discuss his appointment on the company’s advisory board.
Sparter Inc. focuses on direct Gamer2Gamer commerce in the burgeoning MMO market by offering tools and a web space where users can exchange hard won gold for hard earned cash as gamers buy or sell directly from other gamers – not corporations. In addition, the site’s ability to track exchange rates based on purchases on the various servers or realms and a critical seller feedback system helps inform and protect interested consumers about the best sellers. Sparter.com, the company’s web portal, currently supports gold transfers for multiple games including World of Warcraft, Everquest, Guild Wars and Lord of the Rings Online.
“We are very excited that Yoshi will be the first member of Sparter’s advisory board,” said Dan Kelly, Sparter CEO. “Yoshi is a visionary and well respected veteran of the gaming industry. We know that his expertise in the sector, his experience in working as a publisher, and his keen sense of the global market will be invaluable to us as we continue to improve Sparter’s platform and services. More importantly, Yoshi understands how vital it is that we as an industry address consumer interest in trading virtual items. I am incredibly excited that a publishing executive of Yoshi’s stature has agreed to work with Sparter in creating a workable solution for both gamers and publishers.”
“I am looking forward to becoming a member of the Sparter family,” said Yoshi-Hiro Maruyama. “I believe that Sparter is the platform that can accommodate the needs of today’s gamers as well as the rights of publishers in dealing with RMT. Sparter also offers the best opportunity to support our consumers and, through cooperation with publishers, punish the truly bad behavior like in-game spamming, bot farming and use of exploits. I hope to leverage my experience and relationships to facilitate dialogue between Sparter and other participants in the industry to develop a solution that benefits everyone within the gaming ecosystem.”
Speaking directly with Mr. Maruyama, Gaming Today asked him why he was endorsing the company so strongly. Maruyama, a trained economist, said that the industry needs to evolve to benefit itself and its customers. He recognized that there is a desire for safe, protected transactions where players and companies can enable the exchange of money for virtual products and that the industry as a whole needed to work toward making that happen. Sparter CEO Dan Kelly envisions the addition of publishers like Mr. Maruyama to Sparter’s Advisory Board will help the various MMO companies see that protecting and enabling gamer to gamer commerce works to expand the market while promoting or leveraging additional income for further content development.
About Yoshi-Hiro Maruyama: Mr. Maruyama ended his tenure as the General Manager of the XBox Division at Microsoft Japan in September 2006. In this capacity, Mr. Maruyama was responsible for growing XBox market share and preparing the launch of the next generation XBox360 console. He also successfully led efforts to work with major Japanese game companies and creators to produce high quality games for the Japanese market. Mr. Maruyama brought in Hironobu Sakaguchi, a creator of Final Fantasy series, and Mr. Akira Toriyama, a creator of Dragon Ball Z series, to create Blue Dragon.
Before joining Microsoft, Mr. Maruyama served as senior vice president and chief operating officer of Squaresoft Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Square Co. Ltd., and one of Japan’s largest family-owned game software developers. At Squaresoft, Mr. Maruyama increased Square’s U.S. market development efforts. Within two years, the company became one of the most popular game developers in the country with the release of such titles as Final Fantasy 7, the first million seller title for Sony PlayStation in the U.S. He also negotiated a joint venture with Electronic Arts to create Square Electronic Arts, which eventually grew to be one of the most popular Japanese game publishers based in the U.S., with annual revenues reaching $100 million. Mr. Maruyama previously served on the boards of D Wonderland Inc. and Gama Internet Technology USA, Inc.
The Sparter designed commerce system, unlike gold farming operations, keeps the investment in the hands of the people playing the games and offers one solution to the casual or hardcore gamer for removing the grind to generate gold while protecting players from fraud. Players interested in discovering what Sparter is all about as well as a number of answers to commonly asked questions about the service can find out more on Sparter.com .