Socialgamesobserver

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

30Jun/10

Kontagent Social Web Analytics Raises Over $4 Million in Additional Capital

By Thorsten Bleich

San Francisco based social web analytics company Kontagent, has raised over $4 million in additional equity funding in its latest round of funding.  The round was led by Altos Ventures and Maverick Capital, with participation from Larry Braitman, co-founder of FlyCast and Adify. This brings the total amount raised by Kontagent to nearly $6 million to date.  Anthony Lee from Altos Ventures and Eric Kim from Maverick Capital will be joining the Kontagent board.

The company’s social web analytics platform is the most broadly used platform of its kind, deployed by many of the top social game and app developers on Facebook.  The Kontagent platform now tracks over 60 million users monthly across hundreds of Facebook connected games and services.

The new funding partners will be joining existing angels and seed funds announced earlier this year that include: Jameson Hsu, co-founder and CEO of Mochimedia; James Hong, co-founder and CEO of HotOrNot; Benjamin Sun, co-founder and CEO of CommunityConnect; Auren Hoffman, founder and CEO of RapLeaf; Greg Thomson, founder of TallTreeGames and Mike Sego, chief product officer of Gaia Online and also the Facebook Fund, The Hit Forge and Extreme Venture Partners.

The company plans to use this additional capital to extend its technology platform, as well as to build out its sales and marketing capacity.  Kontagent is actively hiring and expanding its engineering, sales and marketing teams in both its San Francisco and Toronto offices.

29Jun/10

AppStats VZ Networks: Same Old in the Top 10, Hope for More Game Genres

By Sebastian Sujka

The AppStats this week show little action in the VZ Networks. The top ten participants remain the same. Consequently, there are no new entrants to present. Within the top five there was not even a change in position. Brain Buddies’ golden era seems to end as the game continues to lose users. Luckily for wooga, Bubble Island and Monster World are this weeks’ top gainers to follow Brain Buddies’ legacy.

Elex’s games Cool Fish and Happy Harvest Two are losing ground while Happy Harvest continues to grow. It should be mentioned once again that Happy Harvest Two is on the seventh position of the total VZ Networks charts although it is only available on StudiVZ and MeinVZ, missing SchülerVZ, the biggest of the three. Since last week some hospital and city building games were launched which are prominently displayed in the individual networks’ game sections. This week’s highlight is the hospital game “Das Krankenhaus” from Chinese developer Snsgame. It was installed over 170.000 times already and is likely to continus its rapid growth.

App Name Developer StudiVZ MeinVZ SchülerVZ VZ Total Gain in %
1.icon Frohe ErnteElex478.9171.324.1551.039.1582.842.230+0.50%
2.icon Brain Buddieswooga581.149802.295909.1922.292.636-0.14%
3.icon Bubble Islandwooga178.112450.619331.952960.683+11.39%
4.icon Wobbix QuizQuiz-Fabrik GmbH179.151265.049243.698687.898-1.44%
5.icon GoodgameFarmerGoodgame Studios93.458280.322313.288687.068+0.15%
6.icon Monster Worldwooga91.434277.315265.522634.271+9.20%
7.icon Frohe Ernte TwoElex163.211455.5320618.743-1.13%
8.icon Turtle SquadPlinga105.009164.041324.242593.292+0.97%
9.icon Crazy CharlyPlinga69.865166.047327.159563.071+0.76%
10.icon Cool FishElex63.736189.164219.956472.856-0.22%
28Jun/10

Facebook About to Launch Operations in India

By Gary Merrett

Social networking site Facebook is all set to launch its India operations from Hyderabad in less than two months. The company’s proposal to set up a unit in Raheja Mindspace SEZ here was approved by the Union Government yesterday, said a senior official of the state Information Technology Department on Sunday. “The company is aggressively hiring people. Initially, they will be operating from an incubation centre in the SEZ,” the official said.

Facebook’s new operations centre in Hyderabad will supplement operations supported out of Palo Alto, California, Dublin, Ireland, and a recently-announced location in Austin, Texas. The Hyderabad office will be Facebook’s first office in the Asian region. As many as five IT companies have been accorded permission to set up their offices in a total area of 3.91 lakh sq ft in different IT SEZs across the state. The other prominent MNC IT companies include Accenture and Invesco (Expansion).

The official said that Facebook has been allotted about 50,000 sq ft space and is going to recruit close to 500 people for running its operations. Facebook, which has nearly 8 million subscribers in India, would reportedly invest USD 150 million in the initial phases. It has more than 400 million active users worldwide. Facebook had recently announced that it would invest in India by opening an office in Hyderabad, where it is expected to build a world-class team to support a growing number of users, advertisers and developers from India and across the world.

25Jun/10

MegaZebra Goes into Publishing: Interview with CEO Henning Kosmack

By Sebastian Sujka

MegaZebra is one of the pioneers in the European social gaming industry with a wide portfolio of game genres across several social networks. Having reached a significant experience level and understanding the constantly changing mechanics on social networking platforms, MegaZebra recently decided to give others the opportunity to benefit from their expertise. We talked to Henning Kosmack, Founder and CEO of MegaZebra about the recent strategic move.

Social Games Observer: How did you come up with the idea to act as a games publisher?

Henning Kosmack, CEO of MegaZebra

Henning Kosmack: Basically, we wanted to bridge the gap between the great talent pool of game developers in Europe and Germany and the fantastic platform that Facebook is. This platform, however, is getting increasinglytricky and requires full dedication. We think that if you want to succeed on Facebook these days you need to give it much attention and that is what MegaZebra has done now for more than 1,5 years. We eat, drink, and sleep social games! Adding to this, the recent Facebook changes made it more difficult for new entrants, i.e. cutting down on some viral features. Hence, partnering creates a great win-win-win situation. Studios can focus on their games, MegaZebra will make them social and users get access to something new and fresh. The fact that we get great response among game developers for this approach is very encouraging. Increasingly, we also get calls from the US and Asia because they know that we have been around for a while, focus on quality, and, last but not least, have managed to get users primarily in tier 1 markets.

Social Games Observer: There are many companies that focus on publishing and offer different solutions. What does your publishing service include?

Henning Kosmack: That depends very much on the game, the genre and the mechanics. Overall, we want to make the games as good as possible, together with the partner. This normally includes optimising the social engagement and to make it fit for the target group. On top of that, it will of course get access to the general offerings by MegaZebra, e.g. our payment platform, localization, and cross-promotion through our network. It is important to stress out that this is not a “one-size-fits-all-approach”. Some parties offer publishing which to them means to simply put a cross-promo bar on top. This is not how we see a partnership. We are looking for a deep cooperation for the benefit of the users. We care very much about our users so we always want to offer them something great. If we do not see that potential in a game we won’t do it. But if we do we will work long hours to get it in front of existing and new MegaZebra games. This also means that the games get the same customer service as our own games so the users will not feel any difference.

Social Games Observer: Which features of games that you license usually need to be adapted?

Henning Kosmack: First of all, the game needs to appeal to the target group. This includes the entire user interface with sound effects. Users have to get into the game quickly and easily. We have to remember that most people on Facebook still don’t consider themselves as “playing games”, but rather interacting with friends via a game. Therefore, we have to ensure that the game offers this possibility. Often we also have to optimise the game for scalability. If someone has never developed a Facebook game before they will not know how to handle this kind of traffic. We have learnt this the hard way sometimes and our partners can benefit from it now. Additionally Facebook still offers viral features irrespective of what the general opinion in the market is. MegaZebra is still growing that way and we are proud of that.

Social Games Observer: What kind of game developers can benefit the most from your service?

Henning Kosmack: Almost every game developer that has any aspirations towards Facebook can benefit from this partnership. Obviously, casual and browser games developers are (more…)

25Jun/10

Playdom Announces Acquisition of Hive7

By Thorsten Bleich

Playdom announced today it has acquired Hive7.com, Inc., a privately held social gaming startup based in Palo Alto, California. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Founded in 2005, Hive7 focuses on building games played on Facebook and other social networks and is best known for Knighthood, a medieval themed game of combat and diplomacy. Its other titles on Facebook, Myspace, Bebo and other social networks include Youtopia, Kick-Off, and Sindicate.

“Our entire team is excited about joining forces with Playdom,” said Max Skibinsky, CEO of Hive7. “Gaining access to Playdom’s industry knowledge and resources represents a unique opportunity for our studio to operate on an entirely new scale.”

“We have moved our development studio into Playdom’s Mountain View office and are hard at work on our next title. We will continue to deliver enjoyable and engaging games to Playdom’s much larger player base,” added Dave Holt, COO and Executive Producer of Hive7. Hive7 is Playdom’s most recent addition to its wide range of studios. With five acquisitions over the past four months, Playdom has built a well-rounded portfolio of studios that allow it to develop a range of social games that appeal to a broad audience.

23Jun/10

AppStats VZ Networks: wooga’s New Releases Dominate

By Sebastian Sujka

In this week’s AppStats on the VZ Network we do not find any new entries in the top 10. Farming games keep dominating the charts while mafia and pet games still lag behind. The aquarium game Cool Fish stays in the top 10 and ELEX’s Cute Pig is on the march as well. VZ classics like Brain Buddies and the quiz wobbix are losing a little ground, surprisingly same as Happy Harvest 2.

Wooga’s recently released games Bubble Island and Monster World grew about 25% each and are both very likely to keep growing at this high pace. Goodgame Mafia, the only Mafia game on the VZ Networks does not perform well and just made it in the top 20. We are still waiting for the break trough of pet and poker games, as well as for the release of a café manager and a city building games on the VZ Networks.

Just recently VZ also announced an own mobile phone prepaid card. Features will include free surfing on the VZ Networks and free usage of the chat on the VZ mobile application. Additionally, you they offer unlimited calls within “VZ mobile” for a 4€ flat fee. VZ mobile will be launched at the end of June. If it will be received well we can expect some more movement in the social games section.

App Name Developer StudiVZ MeinVZ SchülerVZ VZ Total Gain in %
1.icon Frohe ErnteElex478.7611.319.9991.029.3672.828.127+0.34%
2.icon Brain Buddieswooga581.872804.696909.3102.295.878-0.05%
3.icon Bubble Islandwooga160.763417.600284.7093862.456+25.15%
4.icon Wobbix QuizQuiz-Fabrik GmbH181.077270.250246.449697.776-1.92%
5.icon GoodgameFarmerGoodgame Studios93.968281.297310.794686.059+2.29%
6.icon Frohe Ernte TwoElex165.574460.145n/a625.719-1.64%
7.icon Turtle SquadPlinga105.262164.754317.562587.578+1.48%
8.icon Monster Worldwooga84.323261.018235.485580.826+24.20%
9.icon Crazy CharlyPlinga70.362168.412320.046558.820+1.12%
10.icon Cool FishElex66.179197.330210.410473.919+1.23%
23Jun/10

Smeet Receives Additional Funding from Hasso Plattner Ventures and Partech

By Gary Merrett

Nearly 10% of Germany’s teenagers use the Smeet communication platform. The success within this age group and Smeet’s positive international development has convinced the investors from Hasso Plattner Ventures and Partech to continue and increase their investment. Smeet is a virtual world with aspects of social gaming. Users can create their own avatars and rooms as well as explore the different worlds. At the same time they can communicate with other Users via text and voice chat, watch YouTube-videos together, compete in various minigames and collect points to reach higher levels.

Hasso Plattner Ventures has been financing the company since the end of 2006. In May 2010, Hasso Plattner Ventures completed another round financing together with Partech amounting to a seven digit figure. Eran Davidson, CEO of Hasso Plattner Ventures, “…Smeet’s juvenile target group is particularly hard to please and expects innovations on a regular basis. Smeet continuously increases its user numbers, which is proof of the product’s high appeal and versatility. We trust that there will be further success.” Andreas Schlenker, Partech, reaffirms the renewed investment by saying, “We re-invest in Smeet, because after a strong start, we see tremendous growth potential based on the enormous innovative strength, the good management and the potential for a highly profitable and international business model.”

Young adults in France, Italy, Greece, Poland, Spain, Great Britain and Latin America actively use Smeet and thousands of new users register every day. During the past nine months, Smeet was able to record notably high growth. Strategic partnerships with big European social networks such as Netlog, Zoo and Fotka accelerated global development. Positive development as well as the potential for further growth has reassured investors to refinance. Smeet will use the financing to further develop the product and make the virtual world more attractive to customers. In addition, Smeet’s global development plan will focus on enhancing our current markets and expanding to new markets.

On the 30th June, Hasso Plattner Ventures will host the Annual Entrepreneurship Forum in Potsdam. The main topic will be China- A threat or an opportunity and it is expected that 250 high-ranking professionals and spokespeople will be in attendance. During the forum, Hasso Pattner will also present a live example of the Smeet platform.

22Jun/10

AppStats: Hardly Social Games on MySpace

By Sebastian Sujka
App Name Developer User
1.icon SuperPoke!Slide1.981.640
2.icon BuddyPokeUser Developed1.962.632
3. Pop Up FriendsFlashskin955.653
4.icon Image Love CheckFlashskin534.895
5.icon PicnikPicnik304.449
6.icon DarkOrbitBigpoint216.060
7.icon Pop Up FreundeFlashskin142.666
8.icon Cities I’ve VisitedTripAdvisor47.152
9.icon Desert BlitzPlaynik32.821
10.icon PoolbillardCome2Play31.217

In our first AppStats on MySpace we notice strong contrasts to AppStats on other social networks. As an example we show a table of the top apps in Germany and comment on other European countries, in which the situation is very similar. In the Top 10 of app installs on MySpace we find only three games: DarkOrbit from Bigpoint, Desert Blitz from Playnik and Poolbillard from Come2Play. The first two titles are browser game classics. They are no real social games but browser games slightly adapted for the usage on social networks. Poolbillard is a casual game with at least has the social feature of playing against different players on the social network.

Other then Dark Orbit, Desert Blitz and Poolbillard we look in vain for social games. The apps with the most installs are different poking applications, which are probably inactive for a long time already. The other types of apps are very familiar from early Facebook times.

What we conclude is that announcements from MySpace to push games on the platform have hardly been realized in most European countries. In France, the Netherlands and Poland for example, almost the same apps and games as in Germany appear in the charts. Some of the apps in those three countries are not even completely localized. In Spain we spot a highlight: Zynga’s Mafia Wars aka “Mafiosos” has entered the top ten with 88629 installs. Still it is the only social game in the top ten but it seems like we can expect some movement in Spain. This is indeed a start but if we compare the numbers we see that Mafia Wars on MySpace has over 13 million installs in the US. If MySpace wants to remain hopes to become a serious player as a social gaming platform in Europe a lot more social games need to be pushed on the platform urgently.

21Jun/10

Social Network Quepasa Partners With Titan Gaming to Bring Skill-Based Gaming to Their Users

By Thorsten Bleich

Quepasa Corporation, owner of Quepasa.com, an online social network targeting the Latino community, has signed an agreement with Titan Gaming to integrate Titan’s skill-based gaming technologies into Quepasa’s Open Social Developer platform. This partnership will facilitate the availability and publishing of skill-based social games to Quepasa’s registered user base of over 14 million Latinos. The partnership will drive the engagement and monetization of Quepasa’s users and will continue to differentiate Quepasa’s core offering.

“Game developers around the world are looking for better ways to monetize their games beyond ads and virtual currency. Titan’s Platform enables game developers to add tournaments, leaderboards, skill-based matchmaking, and points and cash competitions (dependent upon the laws in each jurisdiction) to their portfolios of games,” said John Maffei, CEO of Titan Gaming. “We are excited to partner with Quepasa due to their explosive user growth, comprehensive gaming strategy, and their singular focus on the rapidly-growing and sophisticated Latino user base.”

“Quepasa is excited to partner with Titan Gaming, as we believe the availability of skill-based gaming titles will be a real differentiator for Quepasa as we start to market our Open Social Developer platform to the broader game developer community. We look forward to working with social game developers from across the globe to effectively drive the adoption and monetization of their titles to our rapidly growing Latino user base,” said Quepasa CEO, John Abbott.

18Jun/10

Scoreloop and Ideaworks Airplay SDK Partner to Offer Extensive Cross-Platform Social Gaming Service

By Sebastian Sujka

Social gaming infrastructure provider Scoreloop announces its partnership with Ideaworks Labs and Airplay SDK to offer game developers the most extensive cross-platform social gaming toolset. The combination of Ideaworks’ Airplay SDK and Scoreloop’s Core Social SDK will allow developers to deploy social games across a wide range of mobile and handheld platforms. Games leveraging this technology will enable friends (communities) to interact across different platforms and share the gaming experience.

With the help of Airplay SDK, Scoreloop will extend its iPhone and Android support to include Symbian, Windows Mobile, BREW, Samsung bada and HP webOS. The company has already changed the way developers approach iPhone and Android game design by providing a powerful social infrastructure to build upon and by connecting millions of users across hundreds of games. “Game developers are looking for the best way to reach more users and increase game sales,” said Marc Gumpinger, Scoreloop CEO. “Along with Ideaworks, we’re now offering the industry’s most comprehensive cross-platform social gaming service. This means new platforms, more users, increased engagement and new revenue streams for game developers.”

“We’re delighted that Airplay SDK and Scoreloop have integrated to bring social gaming to the widest possible consumer base,” said Tim Closs, CTO of Ideaworks. “No other solution allows multi-platform social gaming across such a wide range of mobile and handheld platforms, from featurephones to smartphones to tablets.”

The connected features available to game developers will be the same as Scoreloop’s iPhone and Android lineup, which are: global leaderboards, achievements, player challenges, online profiles, social network integration, cross promotions and virtual goods/currencies.

Ideaworks’ Airplay SDK allows mobile and handheld developers to compile a single codebase to native CPU instructions and then deploy with a single click to all iPhone, Android, Symbian, Windows Mobile, BREW, Samsung bada and HP webOS devices. The traditional costs of porting between OS’s and devices are vastly reduced, leaving the game developer free to optimise the game experience and address over 500m devices globally.
Developers using the Scoreloop Core Social SDK benefit from increased game discovery, engagement between users, and additional revenue streams via in-game currencies and virtual goods.