Socialgamesobserver

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

30Apr/10

Mopay Powers Mobile Payments for Z8Games

By Sebastian Sujka

mopay, a leading provider of mobile payment solutions worldwide, today announced that it has partnered with G4BOX, a North American publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment media, to provide a mobile payment option for consumers looking to purchase ‘Z8 Points’ for G4BOX’s popular Z8Games platform (www.z8games.com). Z8Games is an online destination for gamers to play the very best online games, including online military shooter, Cross Fire and dynamic-action massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), Metin2, as well as access engaging community features and events. Z8 Points enable users of Z8Games’ line of online games to purchase in-game content and digital goods. “At G4BOX, we are committed to providing gamers with the most cutting-edge online gaming experience available,” Howard He, Chief Executive Officer of G4BOX. “In order to achieve this goal, we need to look beyond just creating the best and most compelling games; we also need to ensure we are giving them the best user experience. Through our partnership with mopay, we are able to offer our players a very easy way to access all of our games’ services
available for purchase.”

Handled from its London branch, mopay will enable Z8Games’ players in 36 countries to purchase Z8 points by entering their mobile phone number and have the charges billed directly to their mobile phone accounts. Now, players without access to credit cards or bank accounts can have the same unique gaming experience as their peers.“ G4BOX joins a growing list of gaming publishers and providers that are looking to leverage the power of mobile payments,” said Kolja Reiss, managing director of mopay, Inc. “By enabling mobile payments, gaming providers are opening up new revenue channels and creating simple and fast options for gamers looking to enhance their gaming experiences. mopay looks forward to continued growth and success with G4BOX as we work together to
expand mobile payments for Z8 Points to other countries around the globe.”

29Apr/10

Press Release: Yahoo! JAPAN and DeNA Join Forces For New Social Games Platform

By Gary Merrett
Yahoo Japan Corporation and DeNA Co., Ltd.  today agreed to enter a business tie-up in the field of social games.

Yahoo and DeNA Social Games DealSocial games have enjoyed a worldwide surge in popularity in recent years. The Japanese market also has the potential for rapid growth, not only in the mobile arena but also on PCs. Accordingly, Yahoo! JAPAN and DeNA plan to launch a PC-based social game platform (tentatively named Yahoo! Mobage) this late summer. The two companies believe that combining the platform for Moba-ge-town, which currently has more than 18 million registered members, with Yahoo! JAPAN’s strength and ability to attract customers, plus the game development and operational expertise that DeNA has cultivated in the mobile arena, offer the opportunity for major synergies. Game developers’ development and roll-out of games that use the Mobage API should also help drive market expansion.

Yahoo! Mobage will provide a structure that enables the same games to be played both in PC and mobile environments. The new platform will also create a development and promotional environment that helps game developers roll out the same game for mobile terminals and PCs.

Overview of Tie-up:

PC:
  • Create and operate Yahoo! Mobage social game platform, sharing the Moba-ge-town user platform
  • Convert Moba-ge-town’s mainstay social game titles, develop and launch new games, approach existing social groups
  • Enable Yahoo! Wallet settlements on Yahoo! Mobage
PC/mobile:
  • Link the Yahoo! JAPAN ID with the Moba-ge-town mobile phone ID to enable joint usage
  • Conduct cross-promotion and encourage mutual introductions by users of PC and mobile versions
Tentative Schedule:
  • 2010 early summer Begin providing development environment to game developers (gradually)
  • 2010 late summer Begin providing Yahoo! Mobage services
— End of Press Release
28Apr/10

Badoo Releases Its Own “Chatroulette”

By Thorsten Bleich

Have you ever wondered why before Chatroulette nobody had thought of the simple yet intriguing concept of connecting random surfers via webcam?
Just weeks after Chatroulette appeared on the web, Chatroulette copycats emerged to fill this gap. Among the most well-known are Tinychat Next, RandomDorm, Omegle and Shufflepeople.

Badoo LogoSocial networking platform Badoo has now come up with its own version of Chatroulette. It is called Twister and what it makes it especially interesting is the way in which it could be integrated with the rest of Badoo´s social networking platform. To access all features of this free service you need to have an account in Badoo.com, which most people will want to do as it allows you to determine whether you would like to meet a male or a female.

Like most other Chatroulette-like websites,  the Twister application shows you two boxes,  in which the users´webcam images appear, and a chat field next to them. Unlike its competitors, however, Badoo considers Twister to be a social game, which is why you can “start playing” by pressing the button “Play now!” rather than just “finding” or “connecting” with a stranger.

Besides allowing users to filter strangers by country, it also gives users the option to “avoid risqué playmates.” Socialgamesobserver.com will be keeping an eye on the platform´s further development as we feel that, given its professional look and the possibilities that it offers in conjuction with a social networking platform, it may well become serious competition for Chatroulette.

27Apr/10

Playdom Buys Customized Social Game Developer Merscom

By Gary Merrett
Merscom´s new release for National Geographic "Plan it Green"Social Game developer Playdom (Social City, Sorority Life, Mobsters) has continued its buying spree with the acquisition of game developer Merscom who is currently developing games for Sea World, Purina, National Geographic (Plan it Green) and NBC Universal. The move comes just a few weeks after Playdom bought online game developers Three Melons (Lega Star Wars, Pepsi Footvolley) and Offbeat Creations (Be a Tycoon, Foodfling). The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Merscom was founded more than 16 years ago to produce games with third party branded content. Merscom’s core team has produced over 250 games in total and over 30 casual games for such brands as Lifetime Networks, Paramount and Starz Entertainment.

As Playdom´s CEO, John Pleasants, pointed out, “brands matter and that over time, as the social gaming industry matures, games which incorporate content from popular culture and widely respected brands will garner larger market share than those without it. Merscom has 16 years experience working with content owners and we intend to call on this experience as we move into this promising area of our industry.”

23Apr/10

“Now is the Time to Get Involved in Social Gaming” Says New Report

By Thorsten Bleich

Estimated Growth in Revenue from Item Selling on Facebook  2009-2015Munich-based consulting company Mücke Sturm & Company (MS&C) this week revealed their forecast on the development of the social gaming industry over the next five years.

The report estimates that item selling within social games on Facebook alone has the potential to generate at least 680 million Euro (in the pessimistic scenario) or even up to 1.7 billion Euro (in the optimistic scenario) in 2010. The authors believe that this figure could reach 3.9 billion Euro in 2015. Four major developments are driving this growth:

  • the opening up of more social networking platforms for third party developers
  • an increase in social games on websites outside of social networking platforms
  • growing interest in mobile social gaming
  • entry of further big players into the social gaming industry

The authors point out that the industry is very young and, although it has grown massively over the past few years, most of its growth is still to come. This means that many business models and monetization strategies are still to be tested and fully exploited.

The authors conclude their report with a clear message to entrepreneurs in the areas of game development, payment and advertising: “If you want to be part of the social games success story you should hurry. Now is the time to enter.”

22Apr/10

The VZ Networks: Appstats for April

By Gary Merrett

Little change is occurring in our VZ Network AppStats. Since our last report a month ago, the top six apps remain unchanged. Overall, there is just one new entry in the top 10, as the Olympic Games app naturally dropped out. In total there are only seven new apps in the network, amounting to a total of 65 games. Net total app installs increased by 33.7% from 8.5 million to 11.5 million. The share of games compared to other apps also increased from 69% to 73%. The figures suggest that of the VZ Group´s social networking platforms, SchülerVZ has the largest number of app users, followed by MeinVZ.

App Name Developer StudiVZ MeinVZ SchülerVZ Total Growth
1.icon Brain Buddieswooga551.105732.055817.4772.100.63711.0%
2.icon Frohe ErnteElex Co. Ltd442.325849.535678.7341.970.594130.0%
3.icon Wobbix QuizQuiz-Fabrik GmbH181.308276.869233.609691.78616.4%
4.icon Benote deine LehrerSpickmich-/--/-589.089589.0897.7%
5.icon Turtle SquadPlinga101.987155.915229.129487.03116.2%
6.icon RöhrePutpat71.352126.569218.388416.3097.5%
7.icon Crazy CharlyPlinga60.590143.739200.268404.59741.6%
8.icon Mein KlubBILD.de67.34491.362219.460378.16610.9%
9.icon FunCardsPlinga71.492166.332110.632348.45612.1%
10.icon WuselWaldwuselwald.de42.386107.238172.852332.47646.1%

Wooga’s top position is under attack for the first time ever. Elex Co.’s farming game “Frohe Ernte” is growing very rapidly. At 130% in just a single month, Frohe Ernte shows by far the highest growth rate.  It is quite remarkable that there aren´t any more games of the kind that proved to be successful on other social networks like farming, aquarium or restaurant games. If the data is any indicator, there certainly is demand for them.

19Apr/10

Smeet Reacts to Bailamo’s Bankruptcy

By Sebastian Sujka

About two weeks ago 3D chat Bailamo went offline. Today former rival Smeet announces the takeover of Bailamo’s domain. Bailamo’s users are now offered a new way of 3d chat. Bailamo was narrowly focused on 3d flirt chats, whereas Smeet offers a wide range of functions like videos, webcam shows or telephone. As covered, Smeet just recently launched new features like levels and developing objects. With the Bailamo domain takeover additional users can be acquired.  “We regret that the Bailamo project could not be continued. With the takeover we hope to offer Bailamo users a new way of 3D chat” says Smeet CEO Sebastian Funke.

14Apr/10

New Figures on the Chinese Online Gaming Market

By Gary Merrett
The Chinese online gaming market is gigantic, no doubt. Estimates and predictions on the market value, however, are scarce. California-based research firm Niko Partners has now forecast that the value of the Chinese online gaming market will amount to $9.2 billion by 2014.

Niko Partners estimates that the industry will be worth up to $4.5 billion by the end of this year, compared to around $3.7 billion in 2009. Indeed, this expected increase of over 20% seems realistic. given that video game publishers around the world suffered heavy losses in 2009 while revenues in China were stable. Despite all the regulations imposed on game developers, especially foreign ones, online games continue to flourish in China.

The study also reveals some interesting facts about Chinese gamers’ preferences and behavior. Chinese players prefer free games, where publishers predominantly earn money through item selling. 63% of Chinese gamers increased their expenditure on online games compared to the previous year. Video games have a strong social aspect in China, and playing online games is tied to internet cafes. According to Niko Partners at least 65% of online gamers play in internet cafes part of the time, even if they have internet at home.

Social networks are also increasingly gaining popularity: 88% of Chinese gamers play games on social networks, which have not yet exploited their full potential. One reason is that most Chinese social game developers go global to avoid China’s extreme copy cat culture. Also, average payouts per user are relatively low due to higher revenue shares with local social networks. It is remarkable, however, that over the last two years the genres of the most successful social games have been the same in Europe, the US and China: farm games, followed by restaurant and pet games.

The forecast by Niko Partners estimates that the Chinese online game market will grow to $9.2 billion by 2014 as social networks will live up to their full potential and the infrastructure required for online gaming will expand. Currently internet penetration stands at 28.7%. This figure is certain to grow rapidly. Finally, as technological advances rattle through the country, China’s 765 million mobile phone users will soon have smartphones – and are likely to have a strong desire to use them for games as well.

13Apr/10

Smeet Continues Expansion in Europe

By Sebastian Sujka

The 3D chat industry is highly competitive. How hard it can be to win market share has been once more demonstrated last week, when the promising 3D flirt chat Bailamo declared bankruptcy. In contrast to Bailamo, also Berlin-based 3D chat Smeet continues growing.  Expansion has been successful so far and the virtual landscape is in constant change, striving for improvement.

As we showed some time ago in our guest post, Smeet puts a high emphasis on internationalization. In the previous six months Smeet expanded to France, Italy and Poland. For Poland, which can be considered a tricky market Smeet has a strong partner with Fotka – a major local social community network. It can be suspected that the move to Poland is just the first step towards market share in the rest of Eastern Europe.

With the new markets, Smeet now counts 2.5 million users. To continue the success story it is crucial to come up with new features and keeping acquired users entertained as well as winning new ones. To reward existing user’s loyalty, a VIP model and a credit system have been integrated.  The credits can be earned by conducting missions or tasks in the game and can be used to reach a higher user level. The VIP model gives the user exclusive advantages like reduced costs for virtual goods.

On the other side Smeet uses customer retention techniques that proved to be successful in top social games – developing objects. The user now has access to objects like plants, which only develop optimally way if they are being watered regularly.  With the new features Smeet develops more and more into a multimedia entertainment platform and we can be curious what the next steps will look like.

12Apr/10

User Retention – How To Keep Your Customers

By Thorsten Bleich

A successful online gaming platform is like a well-oiled machine, with everything working in synergy. The design of your product needs to appeal to your audience; your marketing efforts need to be targeted, and your IT needs to be one step ahead of the bugs that inevitably crop up. But none of this matters if you can’t retain your users.

The importance of user retention is often overlooked, as many marketers don’t look past the almighty registration process. However, following a click through to a conversion is not the end of the process. To evaluate whether that click was worth it, you need to track that user’s lifetime value to see if they actually monetize, or if they just log-out and become another wasted statistic. Retaining users is much like filling a swimming pool. Now, imagine trying to  fill that swimming pool with a leaky bucket. As you fill up your bucket, the same amount of water is leaking out the bottom. In short, it’s not very effective.

monetize your social gameRunning an online gaming website without a strong focus on retaining users is essentially the same thing. Your site might get 1000 new registrations per day, but if those users don’t return, you’re constantly wasting your marketing resources to get new ones. You need to focus on the ‘value’ of your users. When there is a high return rate, the value per user increases and should balance out your acquisition costs. When a user pays more, you can pay more for  other users – and target quality non-incentivized traffic that has a higher potential to convert into paying users. When your users don’t return to your site, and they don’t monetize – you have to settle for cheap, irrelevant, incentivized traffic that probably won’t monetize very well either (essentially, you’re  picking up that leaky bucket again). We have summarized a few techniques and ideas that will help you retain your uses and get the most value from them:

  1. Convincing product. Your product is the most powerful tool you have to retain your users. You need to ensure that it looks amazing and has unique, interesting content to keep the  user engaged. Remember, the minute your users get bored, is the minute they start tuning out!
  2. Communication. Ensure that the communication channel between your product and your users is constantly flowing – but be smart about the way you contact them. Once upon a time, you’d simply send out a newsletter and that would be it. But today’s users are spamsavvy and these emails often end up in the junk mail folder. Try to incorporate direct communication into your product through messages and notifications. You should also send relevant discounts and special offers directly to their email inbox, but be careful not to spam them.
  3. giveawaysGiveaways. One of the beautiful things about online gaming is that once an object is produced, it costs nothing to reproduce over and over again. So share the love, and show your users how much you value them by sending regular gifts.
  4. Friend updates. Tuning into the community needs of your users awakens their interest and gives them a reason to be engaged with your product. Keep them updated on their friend’s activities and suggest how they can grow their network.
  5. Facebook. Apps are set to rule the internet, so to increase your relevance with your users – get integrated! Enable updates to be seen on Facebook newsfeeds so that your product is exposed to an extended audience as well. This will help you to drive in new traffic, while keeping your existing users engaged with your product.