Socialgamesobserver

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

29Jul/10

Trusted Opinion Adds Social Gaming to its Recommendations Network

By Gary Merrett

Trusted Opinion (www.trustedopinion.com), a social recommendations network, is launching a unique twist to rating and reviewing restaurants by creating a competitive experience that rewards members with local-area expertise. Gaming elements such as coins, gifts, and badges are delivering higher community participation, interaction, and engagement.

Users now work toward the ultimate goal of becoming the top “Guru” in their area. The new Guru leader-board is region-specific, highlighting members who have received the most “Respect” for their local reviews. The Guru status becomes harder to achieve as regions become more popular and people risk losing their status.

The newly introduced coins and gifts are key parts to the Guru game. Members earn coins for high value activities and can also purchase coins through an online payment system to accelerate their status on the site. Coins are the primary way for members to engage with each other, using them to purchase virtual gifts and give “Respect” points for great content.

This fun and interactive experience engages casual visitors and helps to convert them into engaged, active members who return often — for recommendations from friends and trusted experts, as well as the social interaction.

“While casual users might visit Trusted Opinion to find a new restaurant or review the movie they saw last night, our social elements encourage them to stay on the site and interact,” said Todd Greene, CEO of Trusted Opinion. “These new features are part of our overall strategy to deliver a ratings and recommendations site that engages many types of visitors with fun social experiences and games.”

While other recommendation sites are used purely as information resources, Trusted Opinion is quickly becoming a social destination for its users. In addition to the social games, users can link to their friends, share opinions, and earn “Respect Points” for quality reviews.

Trusted Opinion is the widest-reaching service of its kind with support for 43 languages and over one million registered members from more than 100 countries. Its international restaurant review service now encompasses over 1.5 million reviewed restaurants, bars and cafes across Europe, Asia, and North America.

28Jul/10

$763.2 Million Deal: Disney Acquires Playdom

By Gary Merrett

Advancing on its goal of bringing consumers its well-known stories, characters and brands in ever more engaging ways, The Walt Disney Company has agreed to acquire Playdom. Playdom shareholders will receive total consideration of $563.2 million, subject to certain conditions, and a performance-linked earn-out of up to $200 million.In just two and a half years of operation, Playdom has established itself as a pacesetter in building popular games for social networks enjoyed by consumers around the globe. Through well-known titles like Social City, Sorority Life, Market Street and Bola, Playdom engages an estimated 42 million active players each month.

“We see strong growth potential in bringing together Playdom’s talented team and capabilities with our great creative properties, people and world-renowned brands like Disney, ABC, ESPN and Marvel,” said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “We are at the start of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the way people of all ages play games with their friends across devices, platforms and geographical boundaries,” said Playdom Chief Executive Officer John Pleasants.

Playdom, which has 15 game development studios, will disremain headquartered in Mountain View, California. Pleasants will become an Executive Vice President of the Disney Interactive Media Group (DIMG) and General Manager of Playdom, reporting to DIMG President Steve Wadsworth. Disney expects Playdom’s expertise in social gaming software tools, business intelligence and rapid innovation to broadly benefit DIMG, which already has a substantial global presence in online, console and mobile gaming.

28Jul/10

GameStop Acquires Kongregate

By Thorsten Bleich

Video game and entertainment software retailer GameStop Corp. announced it has entered into an agreement to acquire Kongregate Inc., a social gaming destination and community for core gamers representing the fast-growing free-to-play gaming market. Currently the site hosts 10 million monthly players who spend approximately 23 million hours per month on the site. Kongregate’s digital platform allows consumers to discover great free-to-play games that can be played via Internet-connected devices.

“Kongregate advances GameStop’s digital strategy by providing a gaming platform for casual, mobile and browser games that can be promoted and played by our existing gamers. We welcome the Kongregate team to the GameStop family.”, said J. Paul Raines, Chief Executive Officer of GameStop.

GameStop President Tony Bartel added, “Combining Kongregate’s expansive catalogue of games with our well known consumer brand, powerful marketing and strong customer relationships, means that even more gamers will be able to enjoy their games anytime, anywhere and on any device.” Since launching its website in 2007, Kongregate.com has proven popular with gamers who have embraced its more complex and robust Flash and web-based content, such as strategy, MMO, adventure, RPG and mobile games. Likewise, developers have found Kongregate’s revenue-sharing business plan attractive compared to the cost of developing their own turn-key platforms, with feature sets that provide a more full gaming experience.

27Jul/10

AppStats Poland: Plinga Games Dominate Nasza Klasa

By Sebastian Sujka

For the first time we present AppStats for Nasza Klasa which is Poland’s biggest social network. According to Alexa it is the third most visited website in Poland. In its original function Nasza Klasa is a platform to get in touch with old schoolmates similar to American Classmates or StayFriends. Launched on November 2006 Nasza Klasa has over 27 million registered users today. Evidently, the user volume and user activity was sufficient to attract the first social game developers.

We see German Plinga, Russian i-Jet and Chinese Elex with a relatively high number of installs. Icy Tower, which is also very popular in Poland on Facebook, is leading the charts followed by Happy Harvest. We recognize the i-Jet games “Moja Szkola” (“My School”) and “General Hospital” are also live on VZ Networks. On the VZ Network though, the two games are published by the Chinese developer SNSgame. Currently, we find 9 games on Nasza Klasa and we will present growth figures next week onwards. As the installs are high we can expect more games being published on o Nasza Klasa soon.

App Name Developer Nasza Klasa
1.icon Icy TowerPlinga1.526.918
2.icon Happy HarvestElex752.849
3.icon Maffia Newi-Jet713.371
4.icon Moja Szkolai-Jet293.099
5.icon Pet PartyPlinga496.907
6.icon Crazy CharliePlinga490.022
7.icon General Hospitali-Jet449.401
8.icon FuntrisPlinga434.108
9.icon Turtle SquadPlinga371.402
26Jul/10

Events: Making Games Social Media Summit in Munich

By Sebastian Sujka

On July 29th IDG Entertainment will organize Germany’s first symposium about Social Gaming with the name “Making Games Social Media Summit”. At the Summit, IDG will address several questions: What are the prospects and risks of the current social gaming hype? Which technologies are currently recommendable and which will be recommendable  in the future? What are the game design secrets of FarmVille? Top speakers like sevenload.de founder Ibrahim Evsam, Wooga CEO Jens Begemann and online gaming market researcher Thomas Bidaux will answer these questions and discuss them with the conference audience. Four keynotes will lay the foundation with “surprising insights and provocative assumptions”, followed by four roundtables with the specific topics: game design, gaming business, project management and gaming technology. The roundtables are announced to be hosted by acknowledged experts on each field.

IDG has provided us with 20 discount codes.  If you want to join just use the code “SGO_Discount” when registering on the website and you will automatically receive a discount of 30 Euros per ticket (119 instead of  149 Euros).

24Jul/10

RockYou Announces to Use Facebook Credits Exclusively for the Next Five Years

By Thorsten Bleich

Leading Social Game Developer RockYou announced that it has entered into a five-year agreement to make Facebook Credits the exclusive virtual currency in RockYou’s social games and applications. As is standard for all developers on Facebook, RockYou will receive 70 percent of the revenue from Facebook Credits. The companies worked together earlier this year on RockYou’s advertiser sponsored “Deal of the Day” program to reward people with Facebook Credits when they interact with in-game advertising. More than 1 million people completed the Deal of the Day with Facebook Credits in the first four days after it launched in April. To date, RockYou has issued over 5 million Credits in its popular “Zoo World” game alone, using both direct pay and advertiser sponsored solutions.

“Facebook is showing a long-term commitment to social gaming — and that’s very exciting,” said Lisa Marino, chief revenue officer at RockYou. “We look forward to continue working with Facebook and Facebook Credits. As users adopt Credits, there may be a great opportunity for us to increase revenue from both a virtual goods and advertising perspective.” “We’ve worked closely with RockYou on developing Facebook Credits for some time, and their input has been valuable in evolving the product,” said Deborah Liu, product marketing manager for Facebook Credits. “Facebook is dedicated to providing value and helping developers succeed on Facebook Platform, and Facebook Credits is an important part of accomplishing this goal.”

23Jul/10

New Market Report: 87.3 million Americans Play Social Games

By Sebastian Sujka

Consumer data from Newzoo’s new Social Gaming Monitor 2010 shows a large overlap between two favourite pastimes: playing computer games and using social networks. Of all 143 million social network users in the US, 88% also plays computer games. Vice versa, 79% of all 160 million Americans that play games are active on social networks. As such, it’s not surprising that an ever increasing number of “social games” are offered through platforms such as Facebook. The survey reveals that 61% of all social network users play games within the network adding up to 87.3 million US social gamers. This is 41% of the total online population aged ten years and up; a percentage slightly lower than the UK (42%) but significantly higher than France (35%), Belgium (35%), Germany (30%) and the Netherlands (27%).

Women like to play but men pay

click to enlarge

The majority of games on social networks are free to play. Money is spent on in-game items, additional levels and giving friends virtual gifts to enhance their game experience. The share of people willing to do this is comparable to traditional game websites and ranges from 12% in the Netherlands to 32% in Germany. The UK and US are in-between. Social games are slightly more popular with women – 51% of all social gamers – than men (49%) but men are more likely to spend money, making up 58% of paying social gamers. Alex Agostini, Director of Business Development at social games publisher 6Waves comments: “2010 will be a year of transition for most social gaming companies. Transition from management of explosive growth to search of higher efficiency”

Social games, side dish or main dish?

click to enlarge

It is hard not to run into a social game when active on a social network but there are signs that social games are attracting a steady crowd. Almost half (47%) of American social gamers plays three or more games a month and also almost half (49%) plays frequently: three or more days a week. There is room for growth too, as only 26% spend more than an hour a day on social games and 44% play a single game not more than a period of four weeks. But with 46% of social gamers stating Facebook as their main online gaming destination – 61% in the UK – there is no question that social networks provide an opportunity as well as a challenge to all “traditional” console and online game platforms. Peter Warman, MD of Newzoo adds: “There is no game company out there that does not have social networks high on the agenda. The big question is if playing games on social networks is tapping into a new group of consumers, adding more time and money spent to existing gamers or taking time , players and budget away from game websites and consoles. The same accounts for iPhone, iPod and iPad gaming. With our surveys we aim to get a grip on these major shifts in the games market.”

Click below to see detailed statistics about the US, the UK, France,  Netherlands and Belgium. (more…)

22Jul/10

Oberon Media Launches Social Gaming Platform Blaze

By Gary Merrett

Oberon Media, one of the leading multi-platform casual games companies, announced the launch of Blaze, Oberon’s new innovative platform. Blaze has been announced to be a game-changer for Oberon’s partners and the entire gaming industry. The new e-commerce platform speeds and streamlines social and downloadable casual game distribution to players with a global multi-screen solution. Players no longer have to choose different destinations to experience their favorite social and casual games. Blaze leverages the power of the social graph to help players quickly and seamlessly locate the latest games and allows them to instantly share their enthusiasm with friends.

“With the launch of Blaze, Oberon’s game-changing platform can provide huge benefits to game developers, our partners, and consumers,” said Oberon Chief Strategy Officer, Ofer Leidner. “Developers enjoy easy integration to a network of tens of millions of new players. Our partners gain access to an exciting array of games that use social integration to generate traffic and increase revenue. And consumers are able to access all their favorite social and casual games in one place. It’s a win, win, win solution for everyone.”

Oberon has integrated social features throughout all Blaze multi-screen touch points to maximize player connections and enthusiasm for the games. Players can share or recommend games, send additional free trial time as a gift, become fans of a game, earn achievements, challenge friends and see what their friends are playing. Oberon will also facilitate multi-platform cross-promotions to encourage players to try the latest and most popular games. Oberon’s initial social game developer partners include Playdom, Evermore Media, Playrix, MetroGames, Backstage, Gogii, Slingo, i-Jet Media, and Nimbus Games. Oberon will be rolling out the Blaze platform across its partners including MSN UK, Orange France and others.

21Jul/10

AppStats VZ Networks: Extended Top 20

By Sebastian Sujka

After struggling for the last weeks Frohe Ernte/Happy Harvest continues to grow again and stays on the pole position of our extended AppStats Top 20 for the VZ Networks. Frohe Ernte 2 gained almost half a million installs after the game was released on SchülerVZ. It is remarkable that 11 out of the 20 top performing games are from just two developers. Elex is dominating with six games which include two games form the top 5. Plinga is represented with five games, wooga and Goodgame Studios both have 3 games in the charts. It is worth mentioning that all wooga games are in the Top 5 which reflects the quality of the games. One of the top gainers this week is the aquarium game “Mein Fisch” from HappySNS. Similar to Frohe Ernte 2 the game almost doubled installs with the launch on SchülerVZ.

App Name Developer StudiVZ MeinVZ SchülerVZ VZ Total Gain in %
1.icon Frohe ErnteElex563.9021.145.7991.059.3772.769.078+0.22%
2.icon Brain Buddieswooga575.068786.498898.6832.260.249-0.76%
3.icon Bubble Islandwooga206.604493.881409.2701.109.755+3.04%
4.icon Frohe Ernte TwoElex147.941423.149334.812905.902+52.76%
5.icon Monster Worldwooga106.538306.638311.890725.066+4.68%
6.icon GoodgameFarmerGoodgameStudios87.682264.668314.348666.698-1.61%
7.icon Wobbix QuizQuiz-Fabrik171.625248.618235.829656.072-1.99%
8.icon Turtle SquadPlinga101.617156.543333.801591.961-0.97%
9.icon Crazy CharlyPlinga66.680156.160336.812559.652-1.13%
10.icon Mein FischHappySNS67.175219.128239.362525.665+96.54%
11.icon Frohe Ernte 3Elex87.921275.264155.107518.292+43.86%
12.icon Icy TowerPlinga56.675114.170304.630475.475+26.32%
13.icon Cute PigElex59.329195.443211.867466.639-1.16%
14.icon Cool FishElex55.468164.653227.436447.557-3.01%
15.icon Pet PartyPlinga39.206125.283237.713402.202+8.69%
16.icon Glücklich auf SyltElex46.523161.370191.093398.986+0.09%
17.icon Das Quiz RennenQuiz-Fabrik73.759152.407156.559382.725-1.88%
18.icon FunCardsPlinga63.295146.298118.157327.750-2.11%
19.icon Goodgame MafiaGoodgameStudios42.86897.134167.311307.313+10.04%
20.icon Goodgame PokerGoodgameStudios61.68097.098148.028306.806+0.58%

Although SchülerVZ is by far the most active VZ network it has the least games. We find 56 games on SchülerVZ compared to 67 games on MeinVZ and StudiVZ. The reason for this distribution is a sharper regulation for SchülerVZ games as nearly all users are under age.

The numbers indicate that the extra effort is worth it: SchülerVZ accounts for 44% of the total 19 million game installs. 38% were installed on MeinVZ and only 17% of the games were installed on deserted StudiVZ. Weekly gains in installs also show that SchülerVZ is by far the most attractive of the three social networks. This week total installs grew by 5.16% on SchülerVZ, by 1.74% on MeinVZ and remain almost stagnant on StudiVZ with only 0.11% growth.

21Jul/10

Hi5 Launches New Developer Portal

By Thorsten Bleich

Social network hi5 today announced the launch of its new hi5 Developer Portal ( developer.hi5.com ). Through this portal, developers can integrate content on the hi5 platform quickly and easily. hi5 launched its Game Developer Program in March of this year. While access to viral channels has been shut down by other networks, hi5’s program has opened up new viral channels, enabling social game developers to drive acquisition and monetization of their games. With today’s portal launch, hi5 plans to further simplify and expedite the process of getting games live on hi5 and support developers looking to distribute and monetize their games among millions of users worldwide.

“With the release of our new developer portal and support for Facebook-compatible APIs, it is now nearly frictionless for developers to publish their games in our network,” said Alex St. John, President and CTO, hi5. “As of today, anybody who has made the investment to create a social media game is simply throwing money away if they don’t publish it on hi5 as quickly as possible. It’s virtually effortless.”

While other social networks like Facebook shut down many viral channels in order to avoid spamming the user, hi5 took a different path and invested in creating innovative new hooks for promoting their content. In addition to hi5’s existing Payments API, developers will now have access to Virtual Goods and Gifts APIs for hooking into the highly active hi5 gift economy. These interfaces enable third-party games to provide gifts and other virtual goods to users, which persist on user profile pages and trigger the viral channels that get new content discovered. Additionally, developers can access API documentation (both OpenSocial and Facebook-compatible interfaces) for all integration points, sample source code, reference guides on promoting and monetizing games on hi5, revenue share terms, and distribution agreements. Developers can also submit their games and applications to hi5 for approval directly from the portal, and manage all their applications on hi5 from one place.