Socialgamesobserver

The Latest News on the Social Games Market in Europe and Emerging Markets

19Aug/13

Who is Who in Europe: Playforia

By Camilla Noon

This week we look at Playforia, the social game developer from Finland that publishes casual games on Mobile, Facebook and Web platforms. Here’s what they had to tell us:

Developer Name: Playforia Oy

Where founded and office/s location/s: Helsinki, Finland

Founded by: Pasi Laaksonen, Janne Matilainen, Asmo Halinen

Founded in (year): 2001

Funding: 4 m€

Number of employees: 35

Number of games published: 48

List of games published: Bubbles IQ, a Facebook app and multiple games under playforia.com web service

Describe what you do in one sentence: Playforia develops casual social online games into multiple platforms

Bubbles IQ Screenshot

Where games are published: iOS, web (Facebook, Playforia), Android

Publishing games in which languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Russian, Norwegian, Finnish, Estonian, Latvian, Polish, Hungarian

Game genre/s: Casual, Puzzle, Fun

User demographics (gender): Women 65%, men 35%

User demographics (location): America, Europe, and Australia

Best-selling virtual item: Bubble Pack 0,9 €

Most expensive virtual item: Pro Combo 10€ for Bubbles IQ

What do you see as the current most exciting trend in the industry: Multiplatform mobile games

12Aug/13

Who is Who in Europe: Playdemic

By Camilla Noon

Playdemic, a cross-platform social game developer based in Manchester, UK spoke to Social Games Observer this week and we learnt more about who they are. Their newest and biggest game, Village Life, has been praised for its original gameplay. Let’s see what they had to tell us:

Developer Name: Playdemic

Where founded and office/s location/s: Founded and based in Wilmslow, Manchester UK.

Founded by: Paul Gouge & Alex Rigby

Founded in: 2010

Funding: Yes

Acquisitions: Ideas Pad

Number of employees: 65

Number of games published: 6

List of games published: Village Life, Gourmet Ranch, Kingdom Quest, Crossword Buddies, Quiz Buddies, Eye Spy!

Village Life Screenshot

Describe what you do in one sentence: We create high quality, incredibly fun games that really matter to our players.

Where games are published: Facebook, iOS

Publishing games in which languages: Village Life is available in English, French, German, Spanish, Turkish and Portuguese (Brazilian)

Game genre/s: Virtual world, puzzle games

User demographics (gender): Male and female

User demographics (location): Worldwide

Best-selling virtual item: Gems – Village Life

What do you see as the current most exciting trend in the industry: The transition of the mainstream games industry into a free to play service model.

5Aug/13

Who is Who in Europe: Nekki

By Gary Merrett

Social Games Observer this week spoke to Nekki. The game developer with its headquarters in Moscow publishes browser games, social games and also mobile games. Their name means “enthusiasm” or “inspiration” in Japanese and they’re passionate about creating engaging games. Let’s see what they have to say:

Developer Name: Nekki

Where founded and office/s location/s: Headquarter is in Moscow, Branch offices are in UK, Germany, USA

Founded by: Dmitry Terekhin

Founded in (year): 2002

Funding (if yes, please state amount): self-financed

Acquisitions (if yes – who?): no

Number of employees: +50

Number of games published: 15

List of games published:

Browser games:
11×11.com
mygladiators.com
icekings.com

Screenshot from social game: Gladiators

bananawars.ru

Social Games:
Vector
Shadow Fight
11×11
Gladiators
Colonizers
Funny Pets
Happy Circus

Mobile Games:
Vector
Jackpot Cruise
Banzai Surfer
Stick Run Mobile

Describe what you do in one sentence: Our mission is making the world more interesting by igniting enthusiasm and inspring positive feelings through our games.

Where games are published: Facebook, Google+, Vkontakte, Naszaklasa, Apple App Store, Google Play

Working with publisher (if yes, then state who): No

Acting as a publisher (if yes, then who): Yes. But we are only publishing very few selected games, such as “Stick Run Mobile”, which is a mobile conversion of Facebook’s most successful arcade game of all times. Our main goal is to develop our own IPs.

Screenshot from mobile game: Vector

Publishing games in which languages: Up to 20 languages. Mainly we publish our games in English and Russian.

Game genre/s: Economic Simulations, Manager Games, Arcade, Slots – we don’t limit our self to certain genres.

User demographics (gender): 80% male / 20% female

User demographics (location): Our top games, like Vector are successful in many regions: Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, North and South America

Best-selling virtual item (also indicate price and for which game): “5.000 coins package” in Vector for 0,99 USD

Most expensive virtual item (also indicate price and for which game): - A pair of Swords with +90% damage in our arcade game Shadow Fight on Facebook. (Price ca.  5 USD)
- 3 licensed real stadium designs in our Football Manger 11×11 on Facebook (Price ca. 10 USD)

What do you see as the current most exciting trend in the industry: Crossplatform gaming

1Aug/13

Plarium Launches Soldiers Inc. For Facebook

By Matteo Carli

Plarium, one of the world’s fastest growing developers of social and mobile games, has announced the worldwide release of the massively multi-player, real time strategy game, “Soldiers Inc.” for Facebook.  The title introduces an unprecedented level of quality to the social platform and an evolution of the game dynamics featured in Plarium’s hits “Total Domination” and “Stormfall: Age of War,” already enjoyed by millions of users daily.  The war has begun and players can start building their own army by visiting: http://bit.ly/17EUZj4.

Set in 2019, Soldiers Inc. takes gamers into a realistic near-term future where international corporate powers struggle over dwindling resources.  The search for the world’s largest deposit of minerals in the Former Republic of Zandia has launched a black ops corporate free-for-all waged by a new breed of legal mercenaries.   Players take command of elite private military contractors in a conflict where navigating complex alliances is key and war is big business.

“From the deeper, darker storyline and immersive gameplay to Jesper Kyd’s new soundtrack, Soldiers Inc. outdoes anything we’ve ever offered on Facebook,” said Avi Shalel, Plarium’s Chief Executive Officer.  “With Soldiers Inc., we wanted to offer everything gamers have come to expect of Plarium games while pushing the production value even further in a non-conventional game world.”

Soldiers Inc. also features:

Core Quality

  • Top-quality artwork and character modeling with the level of detail demanded by hardcore players
  • Classic, intuitive, real time interface accessible to all levels of RTS gamer.
  • Regular updates, new content, missions, and characters fuel an ever expanding plotline.

Screenshot: Soldiers Inc

AAA Caliber Voiceovers and Original Music

  • Fully-scored soundtrack and sound composed and produced by BAFTA award-winning composer Jesper Kyd.
  • Players learn the basics of command from their Syndicate handler, Mr. Black. His fully-voiced tutorial will guide them through gameplay essentials like contracting, combat, and joint operations.
  • Fully translated and voiced in English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, and Turkish.

Hardcore MMORTS Gameplay

  • Gameplay is geared towards hardcore players with a passion for deep strategy. Victory goes to those who choose their friends wisely, but aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty solo. Allies and enemies can change at the drop of a bullet casing.
  • Team up in one-on-one partnerships, dive into clan-style warfare in large Tactical Combines, and participate in global Joint Operations.

Build Your Base of Operations

  • Exploit, steal, trade, or borrow the war materiel needed to turn a small outpost into a sprawling fortress.
  • Build defenses by deploying automated gun turrets, artillery, tank traps, and more.

Command the Most Lethal Forces on the Market

  • Players can hire and deploy over 30 realistic units, mercenaries, and battlefield systems from the world’s most modern arsenals.

Soldiers Inc. is available now on Facebook and those ready to join the ranks can learn more by visiting: http://bit.ly/15jJjlZ.

22Jul/13

Who is Who in Europe: From The Bench

By Camilla Noon

This week we profile a developer from Spain, FROM THE BENCH. This Spanish company is one of the top 5 Spanish developers in its market, basing its success on the creation of exciting experiences on mobile devices and other platforms. From The Bench develops sports games with appealing design, random game-experience with users from around the world. Their game, Fantasy Manager Franchise, is present in more than 10 countries with more than 16,5 million users. They just released their next game Be a Legend:Football. We spoke to them to find out more:

Developer Name: FROM THE BENCH

Where founded and office/s location/s: Elda, Alicante, Spain

Founded by: José David Poveda, Felipe Alonso Simarro, Santiago Pérez Castaño, David Cremades Beltrán

Founded in: 2008

Funding: self-funded

Acquisitions: no

Number of employees: 40

Number of games published: more than 25 games

List of games published: Fantasy Manager (Real Madrid C.F., FC Barcelona, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, A.C. Milan, AS Roma, Chelsea F.C., Liverpool F.C., S.L. SL Benfica and more than 20 clubs around the world), MotoGPTM, Starscup, Liga Evolution and Liga Fantasy.

Describe what you do in one sentence: Specialized in the development of sports oriented multi-platform social games.

Where games are published: Platforms: iOS, Android and web. Stores: App Store, Google Play, Facebook and Amazon(coming soon)

Working with publisher: yes

Acting as a publisher: yes

Publishing games in which languages: Spanish, English, Italian, Catalan, German, French, Portuguese (PT) Portuguese (BR), Chinese, Turkish, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, Greek and Indonesian

Game genre/s: sports, strategy, manager, casual games

User demographics (gender): men and women

User demographics (location): Worldwide

Best-selling virtual item: Football players

Most expensive virtual item: Football players

What do you see as the current most exciting trend in the industry: Borderless Crossplatform Gaming Experience

17Jul/13

AppFlood Aims to Give Developers Total Control Over Their App Marketing

By Camilla Noon

AppFlood, the commission-free cross-promotion network for buying, selling and exchanging mobile app traffic, today launched a series of updates that provide never-before-seen levels of transparency, accountability and control for developers seeking to monetize or promote their mobile app or game. New features include the Open Direct Deal Network, Multi-Dimension Analytics and Ad Network Mediation.

The new AppFlood features directly address the lack of transparency that is still an issue with mobile advertising, with many developers finding it difficult to fully understand how best to monetize their apps and where their budgets can be most effectively spent. By providing the accurate, in-depth insight they need to create and manage app marketing campaigns that achieve the best possible results, developers and publishers can be confident of getting the best return on their investment.

Unlike other networks, AppFlood is neutral and doesn’t take any revenue from either direct deals between its users or network-bought traffic. It therefore offers a level of openness and transparency to customers that no other advertising network can match.

CEO Shi Shen 2

“AppFlood’s new features raise the bar for visibility, openness and accountability in the mobile app cross-promotion space,” said Si Shen, CEO of PapayaMobile, the company behind AppFlood. “Transparency has become a vital competitive advantage in mobile advertising, but so far traditional mobile ad networks can’t deliver the visibility developers really want. AppFlood now has the openness developers need to deliver app marketing campaigns that are targeted, flexible and effective.”

The new features include:

  • Open Direct Deal Network – this new marketplace combines the transparency of one-to-one direct deals between developers and publishers with the range and reach of a mobile ad network – all in a single, unified platform. Developers buy, sell or exchange traffic like a normal ad network with the added benefit of seeing the performance of every other app on the network. Developers can then identify which apps are the best potential partners for publishing or cross-promotion campaigns, and then set up direct deals immediately.
  • Multi-Dimension Analytics – with this new feature users can identify potential opportunities to boost ad revenue and ROI from an app with AppFlood’s advanced data mining-driven analytics. Unlike other ad networks, AppFlood’s multi-dimensional analytics allows for comparison and cross-analysis across multiple variables: for example, developers could analyze an app’s eCPM based on “Country” plus “App partner” plus “Network X”, and then compare this to its performance for “Country” plus “App partner” plus “Network Y”. The comparative results provide new insight into how a developer can adjust their existing campaign for better results – something that’s not been previously possible.
  • Ad Network Mediation – developers can connect to and directly compare app performance with AppFlood partner networks including Appia, Cyberagent, Unicume, Clickky, Altrooz and Motive Interactive. It’s now possible to compare an app’s performance across the different networks from a single dashboard using one SDK, and adjust the campaign to improve results and boost revenue in seconds.

Unlike other most other networks, AppFlood provides visibility as to where traffic originates so advertisers can better determine which publishers to work with in order to optimize ­their traffic and ROI. Conversely, AppFlood also enables publishers to decide how to distribute traffic, easily ‘turn off’ any underperforming advertisers and directly negotiate pricing to maximize their return on traffic.

“By adding these new features, AppFlood is putting our money where our mouth is,” continued Shen. “We believe the visibility and insight now provided by AppFlood puts us well ahead of the competition, and finally gives developers the level of transparency and control they need to make the most of their app marketing investment.”

AppFlood’s new features are available now to all new and existing AppFlood customers. There is also an updated SDK available to developers and publishers to unlock this new functionality within their apps. Visit appflood.com for more information.

17Jul/13

Kobojo Unleashes Mutants: Genetic Gladiators

By Matteo Carli

Beware! Battling custom mutant warriors are here! Kobojo, the French developer creating engaging, multi-platform games with an artistic flair for mid-core players, has officially launched its latest game, Mutants: Genetic Gladiators. The free-to-play, multi-player game is now available on Facebook.

Mutants: Genetic Gladiators is a mid-core role-playing game in which users are provided several species (e.g., zombie, robot and barbarian) they can combine to create more powerful mutant fighters. These combatants have various powers and abilities depending on their combinations. Players from around the world pit their warriors head-to-head in famous fighting arenas located around the globe, all while collecting, breeding and producing their unique mutant species to create the ultimate gladiator.

“Everyone at Kobojo is excited to finally bring Mutants: Genetic Gladiators to the masses through our partners at Facebook. As a mid-core game, we think players from novice to hard-core will enjoy combining species to collect unique and powerful warriors,” said Mario Rizzo, CEO, Kobojo. “We look forward to bringing Mutants to Android and iOS on both mobile and tablet later this year.”

Kobojo already has more than 50M registered users playing games such as Atlantis Fantasy, Goobox, Pyramid Valley and Questionary. The company is passionate about creating accessible, artistic and engaging multi-platform experiences for the gaming audience. Kobojo also has another title in development, which will be announced later this year.

16Jul/13

Plumbee’s Facebook Casino Game Mirrorball Slots Goes Mobile

By Camilla Noon

Plumbee, the London-based social casino games company, has expanded its popular Facebook game Mirrorball Slots onto iOS, as the startup makes its first move into the mobile space.

Following a successful year as an online Facebook game, the app is now available for download on Apple’s App Store allowing users to play Mirrorball Slots on their mobile devices.

Mirrorball Slots has close to 300,000 daily active users on Facebook and over one million monthly active users. Being a social casino game, players are able to purchase and win virtual currency, but there are no real money cash-outs.

Raf Keustermans, co-founder and CEO of Plumbee commented:

“It’s been a tremendous year for Plumbee, with the company achieving eight-digit revenues within its first year since launch. The move onto mobile is the natural next step for the company. We are really excited about the new iOS version. Our Facebook game continues to be a huge hit and now with the addition of the mobile app, the sky really is the limit.”

Mirrorball Slots differentiated itself from its competitors on Facebook with high-quality game play, polished graphics and animations. The iOS version remains loyal to the original with three slots games available and more in the pipeline.

Plumbee’s team has a proven track record in combining social gaming and online casino, disrupting the $400B gambling market. The team believes that success will come from creating the best social casino games and offering the best service to Plumbee players.

Plumbee’s mission is to become the leader in social, free-to-play casino games across all platforms.

Plumbee recently announced its involvement in the International Social Gaming Coalition, an association designed to help educate people about the free-to-play space and provide a strong voice in the debate around social regulation. It joins other heavyweights in the industry, including Zynga, Gamesys and DoubleDown.

You can download the app here.

10Jul/13

DeNA China Partners With MediaTek

By Camilla Noon

The China subsidiary of DeNA Co., Japan’s largest social-game website operator, announced a partnership with Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek Inc. to promote mobile social games.

Through the partnership, the first for DeNA China with an upstream supplier in the mobile phone industry, the company hopes to optimize its products based on the features of MediaTek’s mobile chips, DeNA China said in a statement posted on its website.

The company will also offer its flagship mobile social gaming platform, Mobage, as a pre-installed application in phones using MediaTek chips to expand its presence in the emerging mobile game market, the statement said.

DeNA’s Japanese-language Mobage service has nearly 50 million users in Japan, and its Chinese-language version has more than 20 million users in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, according to the company.

MediaTek’s mobile phone customers in China include Lenovo Group Ltd., Coolpad and Huawei Technologies Co.

8Jul/13

Guest Post: NoSQL for Mobile Social Gaming: Three Key Factors Your Database Should Have

By Camilla Noon

Author: Matt Asay

Matt Asay is Vice President of Corporate Strategy at 10gen, the company behind MongoDB NoSQL database.  With more than a decade spent in open source, Matt is a recognized open source advocate and board member emeritus of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

One of the most important steps for building mobile social games is choosing the right type of database.  No matter how simple or complex your game is, it’s essential that you think about the infrastructure requirements that will allow your company to grow as your game evolves to support demand, beat competition and become a viral success.

When most data stored by online games is unstructured, location-based and polymorphic, NoSQL databases such as MongoDB provide a general purpose store that can handle diverse data with quick read/write access and cost effective management.

The key factors that a social gaming ready database should have are:

  • Reliability
  • Scalability
  • Flexibility

Due to the viral nature of social games, the number of active users can fluctuate tremendously within a matter of hours. The last thing you want as a developer is for users’ games to crash unexpectedly or run slowly because there is a server overload. In order to accommodate the needs of social apps, NoSQL is becoming the preferred database model for developers.

Reliability

Because social games are played by multiple players in remote areas, responsiveness and reliability is extremely important. Certain games like Swing Shot and multiplayer fighting games have players performing actions concurrently. If the actions are not happening quick enough, the user experience in severely diminished.

NoSQL databases help in this regard because they are document based. Whenever data is needed, it’s kept in single documents on a disk which enables the databases to read and write more quickly. Games that lag and take seconds to complete actions do not tend to last long. Users are very quick to exit a game out of pure frustration if things don’t run smoothly.

Scalability

The goal of every developer is to grow their daily user count as high as possible to increase the amount of in game purchases or paid subscriptions they’re able to get. Growth for social games generally isn’t a slow gradual process. Users jump aboard quickly. Built in social sharing features make it easier than ever for users to tell their friends about the games they’re currently playing and invite them to join in.

Once a game goes viral and climbs up the rankings in the App store or Google Play Store, it can easily gain a million new users each day. Developers have to prepare for this growth before it happens instead of waiting until after the game explodes. This is what happened with The Simpsons: Tapped Out from Electronics Arts (EA). Upon its release, the game acquired a massive number of users which eventually caused EA to pull it from the app store because the game simply had more user activity than their database could handle.

Good NoSQL databases have the ability to scale without limit if needed. Additionally, when the app starts to grow and needs to add features, NoSQL doesn’t require the developer to make changes to the actual application or schema.

Flexibility

Since social gaming is still a fairly new phenomenon and developers are still testing the waters, so to speak, flexibility is a necessity. You have to be able to make changes on the fly in a lot of cases to make improvements to the game and increase user satisfaction. The document database model used in NoSQL offers the flexibility that social gaming requires; document databases often don’t require set schemas which gives the developer a lot more freedom to make changes without having to completely alter the database. Adding new data types is as simple as adding the new data to the correct document.

What we know about social mobile applications is growing each day. As more games get released and developers push the boundaries for what the games are capable of, the entire industry will experience tremendous growth over the next few years. Developers need to make sure their database model isn’t holding them back.