Socialgamesobserver

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

31Mar/11

Mentez Releases First Localized Spanish Game in Latin America

By Thorsten Bleich

Mentez, the leading social games publisher in Latin America, today announced they have further expanded their presence in Latin America with the launch of their first localized game in Spanish, Guerra Maya (Chinese developer Five Minutes’ Little War), for the Spanish version of Facebook. This is the first of a lineup of current games on Orkut that Mentez will be localizing. “Spanish-speaking Facebook Latin America has over 80 million users; this area is another huge market for us to play in,” said Mentez CEO Juan Franco. “The issuing of our first localized game for Spanish-speaking audiences is a great opportunity, since no other company currently does this in the region.”

In addition to the launch of the Spanish version of Little War, Mentez will be opening a new office in Mexico that will help focus the company’s efforts in Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. Now with offices both in Mexico and Colombia and presence in Argentina and Chile, Mentez has the capability to reach over two-thirds of the Spanish-speaking Latin America population on Facebook. According to a recent report by Playspan and SuperData Research, the virtual goods market in this region alone (excluding Brazil) currently is valued at $165.5 million. With Mentez’s proprietary monetization platform Paymentez, Latin American users can easily pay for virtual goods locally using local credit cards online, through bank transfers, and in person with cash at pharmacies, newsstands and Internet cafes. Recently, Zynga selected Mentez to sell Zynga Game Cards and PINS across the Paymentez network, which stretches from Mexico to Argentina.

Per capita credit card usage in Latin America remains low compared to North America, according to a March 2008 report from the International Trade Administration. The report estimates that Latin American countries like Chile, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil have fewer than 1 credit card in circulation per person. That compares to more than 2.5 credit cards per person in the U.S. Localized items for Guerra Maya include pyramids and sites from the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, animals sacred to the Mayas like the quetzal, and the local agave plant as decorations. Currently, Mentez has over 11 million MAU on Facebook Spanish alone and expects this number to grow. The Mexico office located in Mexico City will house Mentez’s Latin America team and joins Mentez’s other global offices in Brazil, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

29Mar/11

Popular iPhone Game ‘Geared’ Now Available on Android

By Gary Merrett

Geared, a gears-based puzzle game that’s been downloaded more than 10 million times on iOS, launches on Android now. A simple yet addictive puzzle game with 150 mind-bending levels, Geared features a free-form environment unrestrained by the traditional snap-grid experience of similar puzzle titles. Geared offers complete freedom to the player, meaning every level can be solved in a myriad of different ways. And as part of the new Android version, Geared includes a host of social features thanks to the Scoreloop’s social mobile gaming platform. And best of all, Geared on Android is totally free to download and play.

Geared features a level selection menu, play time tracker, rank awards and original sound effects. From the application preferences, users can reset all levels as well as mute sound effects allowing them to play their own music during gameplay. Game progress is saved automatically, and returns the player to last level that was open. In addition, there are a host of new features that are possible thanks to the use of Scoreloop’s social gaming platform. These include:

  • A live news feed delivering news and gameplay tips
  • The ability to see your progress through the game vs your friends
  • Ability to share your high scores via Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, as well as showing off your Geared skills via status updates such as “You’re now a Geared Master!”
  • Find your friends and invite them to play via the address book, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter
  • The addition of the Scoreloop Social Market, which allows players to see what other gamers are playing and to learn about other Scoreloop-enabled games they can download

Geared for Android ad-supported, meaning it is free to download and play and available worldwide through the Android Market in the Games category. Geared for Android is the first game to be ported from iOS to Android thanks to Scoreloop’s ‘Go Android’ initiative. ‘Go Android’ offers eligible developers the ability to reach a new audience without the time and resourcing hassle that comes along with porting. The resulting Android versions will benefit from Scoreloop’s position as the largest social mobile gaming platform for Android devices, and gamers will benefit from having more cross-platform games to enjoy and share the gaming experience with friends.

25Mar/11

How to Set Prices in Social Games – Guestpost by Matthew Warneford (CTO of Dubit)

By Sebastian Sujka

Selling virtual goods is the main revenue stream for every successful social game developer. People talk a lot about the quality and functionality of those virtual goods but usually ignore the central element for a virtual economy: the pricing of virtual goods. Here are some experiences that we at Dubit have made. Generally speaking, we have been most successful pricing the virtual items in proportion to progression through the game. We usually structure the game so that new items are unlocked each time the player levels up. For example, when the player reaches level 2 they unlock three new items in the store. In our model the price of those three new items are more expensive than the level one items. In other words, the price of items are loosely linked to the experience level they first become available at.

With this approach we can build a mathematical model for pricing the items. But first we need to model the progression curve through the game – we need to decide how many experience points are needed for each level. Typically the number of experience points increases between levels. Once we have our level curve we’re getting close to pricing our goods. In our games we link the awarding of experience points to awarding virtual currency. In other words, whenever a player earns experience points they also earn virtual currency in the same ratio. For example, for every experience point the player earns they get 5 virtual currency coins.

If the player needs to get 100 experience points from level 10 to level 11 we know they will end up earning 100 x 5 = 500 coins. We might decide that each time players levels up they unlock 5 new items in the shop. But usually we don’t want the player to be able to buy everything they unlock – we want them to have to think about which items to buy. If we decide they should only be able to buy 3 of the 5 items then we can say that the average price of a virtual item *at level 11* is 500 / 3 = 166 coins. Of course, we would not set each item at that price. But that approach allows us to model roughly the price of items at each level – we then manually tweak those prices.

This process is simple enough providing that you can calculate the level curve. That level curve is defined by four variables:

  • Time before a player is primed to spend
  • Time saved by spending money
  • Experience levels progressed by spending money
  • Experience level after one hour of play time

We have also created a free ‘economy modeling tool’ – simple sliders to control all the input variables and spits out the level curve, and the average price of items at each stage of the game. For more details just visit the blog post about our tool.

24Mar/11

Mobile News:

By Thorsten Bleich

Glu Mobile on Amazon AppStore

Glu Mobile Inc., leading global publisher of 3D Social Mobile games for smartphone and tablet devices, has announced that Glu games, including World Series of Poker, Hold’em Legend, Diner Dash 2, Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, will be available at the launch of the Amazon Appstore. The Amazon Appstore will offer apps and games for Android devices on Amazon.com at Amazon prices. “We are excited to be a featured developer in the launch of Amazon’s Appstore for Android,” said Niccolo De Masi, CEO of Glu. “The launch of the Amazon Appstore will introduce new players to our top premium Android games, and over the long term support our goal to bring rich 3D Social Mobile gaming experiences to new audiences.”

Z2Live Receives Venture Funding

zMobile game developer Z2Live has announced that it has closed a Series B investment from venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson joining Z2Live’s original investor, Madrona Venture Group. This investment recognizes the runaway success of Z2Live’s launch title, Trade Nations, and the overall market opportunity to bring social gaming to mobile. “This investment allows us to accelerate globally and also add to an already very strong team behind the company. “, remarked David Bluhm, CEO of Z2Live. Popular smart phones, like the iPhone and Android, are turning gaming from a male-dominated stronghold into a mass-market form of entertainment, according to a new report by Flurry Analytics. The report concludes, “Mobile social gamers are the new mass-market powerhouse.” Games based on a “Freemium” model now represent a majority of the top grossing games on Apple’s iTunes as free-to-play is rapidly proving to be an attractive financial model.

23Mar/11

Turkey – Shining Diamond of Eastern Europe (Guest Post by Afşın Avcı)

By Sebastian Sujka

Afşın Avcı, Country Manager Turkey at SponsorPay

Social Economics has passed its infancy in the US and Europe. Now these markets are growing daily and grabbing a seat in these markets is getting harder and harder. However, there are some baby-markets that are highly promising. Turkey is one of these markets. You will probably have heard about the potential of the Turkish market. Just to illustrate: It is the country with the fourth biggest Facebook audience. Talking about the social games market in particular, the demand in Turkey is huge.  There are 7 Turkish Social Games in Top 500 games on Facebook. The biggest one is Okey with 4.3 million MAU.  Okey is a table game that is very common in the Turkish culture. It is played by four people and is highly popular in Turkey. It is the game you see men playing in cafes all day.

Although Facebook has dominated the market, there are other social networks in Turkey. The most important one is Mynet, which provides casual games in its game center “Mynet Oyun”. Moreover, Mynet distributes well-known social games and virtual worlds such as sMeet in Turkey. On average, 100k users play games on Mynet at the same time and the network has about 1 million daily active users. Another stand-alone social gaming platform is Gamyun.net which has daily active users around 500k.  In general, these gaming platforms mostly consist of traditional Turkish games such as Okey, Tavla(Backgammon) or Card Games.

When we get back to social games on Facebook, we see new start-ups popping up. The best known of them is Townster, which is an Urban Planning game that has 568k MAU.  The developers behind Townster is Gamester and I am positive that they can join the big players by reaching 1 million MAU. Turkcell, the leading mobile operator in Turkey recently also entered the social gaming market with a game called Footbo City. The game has 366k MAU without Turkcell spending a lot on advertising or marketing activities yet. Although the market is very promising, the catch is monetization. Social games same as all other online games have to deal with the problem that Turkish users are not accustomed to spending money online.  Mobile payment solutions improved the situation a bit but right now no game except Sanalika can make a positive balance just with selling virtual goods.

Sanalika is a virtual world that was also listed in Google Zeitgeist 2009. Because of the slow online spending mentality it is believed by many that offer-based monetization will boom in Turkey. Some companies already adapted to this model. But currently, there is a big problem on the advertiser-side becuase the market is not developed and ad-models such as CPL or CPS are hard to find. Still, most offer based monetization companies turn their eyes on the Turkish market and and currently I see SponsorPay in the leading position in Turkey. Despite all current problems, online spending is increasing day-by-day and it is to expect that games with a sufficient user base will be able to earn good revenues soon.

18Mar/11

Digital Chocolate Launches Zombie Lane on Facebook

By Thorsten Bleich

Digital Chocolate, a leader in social games across growing platforms, has announced the launch of Zombie Lane on Facebook. The game is currently recruiting players in the quest to defend and take back control of their neighborhood from the endless waves of zombies. “Zombies continue to be an incredibly popular theme in games and movies,” said Marc Metis, President of Digital Chocolate. “We’ve set out to create the first great Zombie game on Facebook.” Customize everything about your character from its gender, appearance, to choice of weapons. You can either purchase your weapon from the market or gather materials around your homestead to assemble super weapons such as the powerful flamethrower that provides unique firepower.

Robert, the friendly Rent-a-Cop, will help direct players through the missions where they’ll encounter a humorous collection of zombies from all walks of life with different strengths – from waitress and plumber zombies to the always present zombie salesmen. Challenging horde quests will put you and your fellow neighbors in survival mode. Players will be able to meet other fun and vibrant characters in the game including Farmer Frank, helping him to harvest his crops. Created to take advantage of the social features on the platform, players can gift items and share coins with friends, and visit friends’ neighborhoods to help in the fight. Digital Chocolate will be implementing a steady wave of enhancements and new content to Zombie Lane in the coming weeks.

17Mar/11

EA Extends a Blockbuster Franchise to Facebook with Dragon Age Legends

By Moritz Hettich

EA has announced that Dragon Age’ Legends is now available on Facebook. Dragon Age Legends, a collaboration between BioWare’ and EA’s Play4Free studio EA2D, expands on the award-winning action RPG franchise and introduces deep, high-quality gaming to Facebook. Dragon Age Legends also ties directly into Dragon Age II, currently available in stores. Players who complete specific quests in Dragon Age Legends can earn up to five exclusive items for use in Dragon Age II.’We built Dragon Age Legends with one goal in mind: to bring the AAA quality gameplay BioWare is famous for to the social space,’ said Mark Spenner, General Manager of EA2D. ‘Dragon Age Legends brings true RPG combat and style to this massive social platform and delivers it at BioWare blockbuster quality, raising the bar for social games.’

Set in the Free Marches, the primary setting of Dragon Age II, Dragon Age Legends combines turn-based tactical combat with gripping co-operative gameplay. By simply logging in Facebook, players can jump in to the online RPG to recruit their friends and embark on a battle-rich journey filled with challenging quests. Like all classic RPGs, players will earn loot and share rewards with their friends to grow their hero’s might and their kingdom’s power. The game includes a character-customization and upgrade system that allows players to tackle demons and darkspawn to become a legendary hero within the Dragon Age universe.

16Mar/11

Wooga Presents its Fifth Game Diamond Dash

By Sebastian Sujka

The latest rumors have been confirmed today: wooga’s new game is a puzzle arcade game. The gameplay is very familiar: in a 10 x 10 square area with a hundred diamonds you have to find clusters of at least three diamonds of a matching color within 60 seconds. Once you click onto the cluster it disappears and the area is refilled with new diamonds from the top.  The diamonds do not have to be aligned in a row so there are more chances of clearing big clusters than in classic three-in-a-row games. The more diamonds cleared, the more points you can earn. The points that are earned fill up the level bar and level advances unlock new “secrets” – features that help clear more diamonds. The game is embedded in a One Thousand and One Nights setting with a cuddly genie-like panda bear guiding you through the game.

What makes Diamond Dash stick out from the pack of existing puzzle arcade games are the features surrounding the actual game. When you start to play you have only five lives and each time you play one life is used.  You receive a new life from the Panda every eight minutes. If you do not want to wait the only way to get more lives is to send lives to friends and to hope that they return the favor. An incentive to keep playing and to improve your high score is given by weekly tournaments according to which the leader board is sorted. This is different from the common approach of ranking according to total scores. It provides a quite a clever retention mechanism because if you did not earn a score in the latest weekly tournament, you may find yourself at the bottom of the charts, even even if you are 20 levels ahead of your friends.

Wooga frequently emphasize their focus on retention rather than on immediate monetization and Diamond Dash provides another example of this policy. Arcade games tend to monetize worse than other social gaming genres and in the first version of Diamond Dash we do not find any monetization features at all. However, wooga has told us that those features will be added at a later point,  including being able to buy additional lives or unlock new secrets.

With Diamond Dash wooga did most certainly has not created the most innovative Facebook game. What we find though is a well presented, visually appealing arcade game that might very well step in the shoes of wooga’s first arcade game Bubble Island that currently has about 6.5 million daily active users (DAUs)

16Mar/11

AppStats Studi-/MeinVZ

By Thorsten Bleich

App Name Developer Installs Gain in %
1.icon Frohe ErnteElex1.698.877-0.36%
2.icon Frohe Ernte 2Elex440.414-0.57%
3.icon Frohe Ernte 3Elex365.989+0.65%
4.icon wobbix QuizQuiz-Fabrik335.486-0.28%
5.icon Mein FischElex315.734-0.83%

See the full Studi-/MeinVZ AppStats here

15Mar/11

AppStats Odnoklassniki: Domovyata New In The Top 20

By Gary Merrett

App Name Developer Installs Gain in %
1.icon Territory FarmersSocialQuantum12.597.282+1.38%
2.icon MegalopolisSocialQuantum9.486.482+1.76%
3.icon Happy Farmi-Jet8.179.358+0.99%
4.icon FarmandiyaPlarium7.544.436+2.08%
5.icon Fish Placedrimmi6.388.345+2.11%

See the full Odnoklassniki AppStats here