After Facebook closed down viral channels it became significantly more difficult for small social games developers to promote their games. Advertising on Facebook requires a huge budget as industry giants like Playdom and Zynga outbid small developers. Cross-promotion is the main alternative. However, it is only effective for developers who have many active users in their other games already. This promotion structure raised the question whether at all it will possible for small developers to compete with Zynga & Co. in the long run.
Jussi Laakkonen of Everyplay and Nabeel Hyatt of Conduit Labs decided to do something against the lack of cost effective promotion channels for small developers. The idea is simple: small developers band together. Their solution is Applifier, an innovative service that provides traffic exchange to the participating members in form of an ad bar above the game screen. With founding participants like Metaplace, BitMinion, Free Lunch Design, Wonderhill and Three Rings the Applifier network already counts over five million active users. Applifier is free for all participants and currently invite-only. We talked to Jussi Laakkonen about his “rebel alliance”.
SocialGamesObserver: How has Applifier been received since its launch?
Jussi Laakkonen: Growth has been fast and our members love the service. New members are joining in, so that definitely speaks to that Applifier fills a need in the market.
SGO: How did you come up with the idea?
Jussi Laakkonen: The time was simply right for something like this. We were working on Applifier on our own at Everyplay and once we started reaching out to other social game developers it was obvious that many had similar ideas. We hit it off with Nabeel Hyatt from Conduit Labs. Applifier grew very fast from there on and the support of the first members was essential to the network’s very successful launch.
SGO: Using Applifier you are promoting other developers´ games in your game. Does Applifier target users that play several games at the same time anyway?
Jussi Laakkonen: Yes, Facebook went on the record at the latest F8 that 200 million Facebook users play on average 4 games a month. Given that 4 games is an average value I don’t think it is far fetched to assume that the people who get more involved in games actually play 4-6 games at the same time.
SGO: Applifier is for free for participating developers. Are you planning to keep it that way?
Jussi Laakkonen:It is far too early to speculate about the future. What’s clear though is that Applifier is solving a burning need for its members. Just a couple of weeks after launch we looked at the fastest growing apps on Facebook and we’ve seen a number of our members appearing there like Nightclub City, My Vineyard and MonstrosCity.
SGO: Is Applifier a solution only for Facebook or do you plan to launch it on social networks that have announced to open up notification channels?
Jussi Laakkonen:We built Applifier to help us and other independent developers grow faster. As we and all of our members are on Facebook, we are naturally focusing all our efforts on Facebook for now.
SGO: Does Applifier work as one big network or can you bond together with a
number of developers of your choice and exclude others?
Jussi Laakkonen: Applifier is one large network and this approach works great for our members.
SGO: Currently Applifier is invite-only. Do you plan to make
it available for everybody?
Jussi Laakkonen: A core goal of Applifier is to ensure that the games found on the cross promo bar are of high quality and that the user experience is consistent. For these reasons we are keeping the network invite-only for the time being. We are always looking at ways to expand the network because a great selection of games makes it more appealing for the players, so I want to encourage independent social game developers who have quality games that are growing to get in touch with us!