GungHo Surges After Picotto Kingdom Jumps on ITunes Japan

GungHo Online Entertainment Inc., maker of the Puzzle & Dragons smartphone game, jumped in Tokyo after its Picotto Kingdom title surged up Apple Inc.’s application store in Japan.

The stock rose 7.8 percent to 579 yen at the close of trade, the biggest gain since May 29. Picotto Kingdom was ranked third on Apple’s app store in Japan for free downloads as of Aug. 10 compared with 269th the day before, according to data from Distimo.

GungHo has been seeking a follow up success to Puzzle & Dragons, which was the top game by sales in iTunes and Google Inc.’s Play stores last year. In Picotto Kingdom, players use weapons to destroy their enemies, according to the company

“There is more of a sense this game could become the next hit after Puzzle & Dragons,” Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst with Iwai Cosmo Securities Co Ltd. said by phone. “This might have drawn attention from investors.”

GungHo collected about 149 billion yen ($1.4 billion) from Puzzle & Dragons last year. The game maker partnered with SoftBank Corp. last year to buy a controlling stake in Supercell Oy, developer of games Clash of Clans and Hay Day. GungHo paid 20 percent of the $1.53 billion price.

Gungho’s founder is Taizo Son, the brother of SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Son. SoftBank owns more than 30 percent of the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. GungHo said earlier this month it would start TV commercials for Picotto Kingdom on Aug. 9.

Puzzle & Dragons was the top game by sales in 2013 for mobile devices using iOS and Google Play, followed by King Digital Entertainment Plc’s Candy Crush Saga and Supercell’s Clash of Clans and Hay Day, according to App Annie.

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