Future 50
A New Generation of Leaders Has Arrived

For building a different kind of gaming company—for a different kind of gamer

Twins Mizuki and Anna Nakajima didn’t come from the gaming space. One worked at Morgan Stanley MUFG Securities Co., the other for a Sankei Shimbun newspaper. And that outsider perch has influenced not only the games they’ve developed, but also the company they launched from their studio apartment in 2014.

In a notoriously male-skewed industry, Coly Inc. titles are aimed squarely at a female audience with elaborate anime design and storylines that focus heavily on character development—and often involve a love story between the lead characters and the player. Known in Japan as otome or "maiden" games, they draw players interested in more than simply beating a big baddie. The latest title, for example, is dubbed a "detective and romance simulation" game that promises an elaborate tale of a heroine who has lost her memory and a "mystery that turns into a lifetime of love."  

"We think we’re creating human beings in a two-dimensional world, rather than two-dimensional characters that look and act like humans," Mizuki told Time magazine.

That novel approach to the market has influenced the games they’ve developed, as well as the company they’ve built: One-quarter of Coly’s board members are women, along with 7 in 10 senior managers—compared to an average of less than 15 percent at the typical Japanese business.

The changemakers scored a decisive victory in early 2021, when their US$110 million startup had one of the most successful IPOs of the year on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. And to help more young women level up in the gaming world, Mizuki and Anna launched MO Investment, a division created to invest in women and other next-gen entrepreneurs.

"We hope that other Japanese companies will place more women in management positions, because we know that they are capable," Mizuki said.