Socialgamesobserver

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

31Aug/11

GREE and Unity Extend Business Partnership

By Sebastian Sujka

GREE, has announced an extended business partnership with Unity Technologies, creators of the Unity Pro all-in-one game creation tool that allows for efficient cross-platform development of interactive 3D content. The agreement, which allows GREE to provide licenses to most of its developers, encourages the creation of even more diverse game content for GREE’s mobile social gaming platform. The comprehensive business partnership grants GREE the exclusive right to redistribute the “Unity for GREE” professional license for Android and iOS, currently distributed for a fee, for free in Japan. As a result, development partners who provide social applications for the GREE Platform will be able to significantly reduce their initial cost for app development when using “Unity for GREE” for Android and iOS. Further, GREE and Unity Technologies will continue offering the popular free technology seminars and consulting sessions that the two companies began offering earlier this year.

Used by over 500,000 developers worldwide, Unity is a game engine and authoring tool that can be used on multiple platforms including PC, Android, and iOS. The tool takes advantage of an integrated development environment that combines a game engine and game editor to enable one-source multi-platform development. Unity 3.4, the latest version released in July 2011, features the Allegorithmic Substance Integration procedural texture generation tool based on Substance technology that allows the conversion of user bitmaps into seamless materials. It also supports the development of higher quality apps by providing stronger technology solutions. This agreement further solidifies the relationship between GREE and Unity Technologies that grew in March 2011 when the two companies entered a technology alliance that provided the Unity Plugins for both the GREE Android SDK and the GREE iOS SDK, which allows functions provided by the GREE SDK to be easily embedded in games developed with Unity. In addition, in June 2011, GREE announced a plan to develop and distribute original 2D and 3D apps for Android and iOS using Unity.

31Aug/11

RockYou and Peak Games Reach New Global Audiences with Regional Gaming Partnership

By Sebastian Sujka

RockYou is partnering with Peak Games to adapt RockYou’s Facebook games to be more accessible for fans around the world. Localized versions of RockYou’s popular Zoo World 2 game will be available in Turkey and additional countries across the Middle East, increasing the global reach and distribution of RockYou’s titles while preserving a quality game experience for players everywhere. Peak Games, the largest social gaming company in Turkey, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and who is globally ranked among the top 10 in DAUs, has signed on to be the exclusive distributor and publisher for Zoo World 2 in these regions. Peak Games will be responsible for handling localization, marketing, user acquisition, customer support, and community management. Much of Peak Games’ success has been driven by how the company reaches underserved markets with localized and culturally-specific games and by adjusting a play experience for each unique audience. For Zoo World 2 Peak will be incorporating both Turkish and Modern Arabic language, and culturally specific enhancements into the game for each region.

“Working with RockYou enables us to bring engaging games to Turkey and MENA expanding the Zoo World community,” said Sidar Sahin, CEO of Peak Games. “We have a deep understanding of our markets and we’re able to tailor the game and offer support according to our audience’s expectations and needs.”  “We realize that the best global approach is made up of a series of local approaches,” commented Josh Grant, RockYou’s SVP and GM of Studio Partners. “So we’ve chosen the strongest partner for these regions in Peak Games: experts who can ensure that our games cater to their culture and audience through proper localization.”

31Aug/11

Goodgame Poker Revamped

By Sebastian Sujka

The free online game Goodgame Poker combines the most common version of Texas hold ’em with social elements that extend far beyond the poker game itself. Players can create their own avatars and equip them with clothing, accessories and personal items. It is also possible to communicate with other players using the live chat function, and to send gifts.  Nine million registered players already play the game, created by Hamburg developers Goodgame Studios and which is available in 16 languages.

Now, GoodGame Studios revamped the game in several ways. In particular, extra features have been added to this new version to make entry into the game much easier for first-time players. While experienced players can demonstrate their skill in tournaments against a number of opponents, beginners can use the helpful tutorial to quickly learn the basics of poker. The constant stream of new real players will make each hand a unique experience.

In addition, besides a fresh contemporary design and all the classic features, the revamped game also includes many expansions and technical upgrades. With its colorful comic strip style and numerous animations Goodgame Poker has always been a one-of-a-kind multiplayer card game. Coming soon are new features such as a tournament series, a table tournament (Sit and Go) and extra items. Seasonal events are also in the making.

31Aug/11

Yummi Takes Social Gaming to the Street

By Sebastian Sujka

Yummi Apps, a social and mobile game developer from Central and Eastern Europe, has announced its plans to launch Wizardia – a social game to connect both social gaming and mobile gaming technologies to create a unique real time/real life gaming experience.“With social gaming growing at unprecedented rates, the multi-player game will introduce a technology that will radically change the social gaming experience,” says Tomas Kacevicius, founder of Yummi Apps. “Our unique GPS integration system will let social gamers take their online experience outside. This means that players will literally be able to play each other on the streets of their city to gain extra benefits and real life prizes”.

Wizardia combines two dynamic gaming genres, city-building and real time turn based combat, and a third ingredient: mobile technology. Players will be able to play online through our Facebook application and through Smartphone Android and iOS application.The main platform for Wizardia will be Facebook, while the mobile version will allow players to gain additional credits and access exclusive features. Players will be able to track and compete with each other in real time and in the real world, build castles and discover treasures in their own country, town or street.

“Yummi Apps” is a social and mobile game developer company based in Lithuania. Founded in 2008, it is part of Kitoks.com, the only Facebook Prefered Developer in the region. During its first three years, “Yummi Apps” has  worked for such global brands as “L’Oreal”, “Maybelline”, “Garnier”, “McDonald’s”, “Nokia”, “Sony Ericsson”, “Nescafe”, “Opel” and “BMW”. The company plans to launch Wizardia this autumn.

30Aug/11

Kunlun Raises $46 million Fund with Korean Government

By Thorsten Bleich

Chinese online game company Kunlun is partnering with the Korean government to create an investment fund for developers, the fund will be worth $46 million. The money will be provided by Kunlun the government, and several private investors. Kunlun Korean was established in December 2010, with its debut game, K3 Online, launching last month. It has attracted more than 100,000 players, with another 100,000 expected to join by the end of August. Kunlun is also the second biggest online gaming company in China, just behind Tencent. Along with the successful expansion in Korea market, Kunlun’s subcompany Koram Games Ltd is also accelerating the paces to explore the American game market, approached in the market for 2 years, Koram Games now has already launched 10 games, and gain almost 2 million subscribers. The Chinese game company Kunlun was inherently founded as a social and web game subsidiary of a software company Brother Soft. And it achieved 20% of market share in web and social games and US$187m of annual sales within 3 years in China. Kunlun is right behind Tencent whose market share is 50% in the field.

Unlike other giant developers like Tencent or Shanda are focusing on their home market, Kunlun’s half of total sales comes from overseas market. Kunlun Korea is now the 7th branch of Kunlun and Kunlun America is also bringing into the agenda. As the subsidiary of Kunlun, Koram Games mainly focus in the market of English-speaking countries, the company is now having 5 products in the market which are Chronicles of Merlin, Clash of Kingdoms, Three kingdoms online, Indomitus and Dynasty Saga, all the games are free to play browser-based and can be  accessed on both Facebook and company website www.koramgame.com. “We are catching more and more attention from North American gamers now” said English department manager Joe Zhou, “Take Chronicles of Merlin as an example, we launched this game just for four month and already developed to 10 game servers and over 200K subscribers.” Joe is very optimistic about Koram’s development in the US market and always anticipating how big this America Dream would be.

29Aug/11

Booyah Releases “Early Bird”

By Thorsten Bleich

Geo-location mobile entertainment company Booyah has released Early Bird for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.  Early Bird is available now on iTunes for $.99 on the iPhone and $1.99 on the iPad. “Early Bird is a great expression of the passion and creativity we have amongst the team at Booyah,” said Keith Lee, CEO, Booyah. “There is a very strong appeal to Early Bird’s fun, ‘light’ design and the intellectual property has a great potential for mass market success.” Early Bird challenges iOS gamers to swipe their way to success using simple iOS gesture controls in this physics-based action puzzle game. Early Bird features HD Retina graphics to complement the family-friendly design of the game. Players can earn achievements and compete to top the Game Center-powered leaderboards. Challenges await players as they flutter through 72 fun-filled levels across three zones, including spring flowers, bumper birds, windmill obstacles, moving platforms, lightning bugs and slippery surfaces.

26Aug/11

AppStats this Week: Top Gains and Top Losses Across Social Networks

By Sebastian Sujka
Network
Game
Developer
Users
Gain
Orkut
Guitar Flash
gamesx
3.174.874
+1.42%
 
ColheitaFeliz
Playdom
3.336.512
-0.07%
Tuenti
La Superliga
Metrogames
665.719
+44.17
 
Dragon Atlantis
MetroGames
255.279
-21.14%
Lokalisten
Goodgame Poker
Good Game
4.837
+0.08%
 
Traumstadt
Elex
17.997
-0.50%
StudiVZ
Cute Pig
Elex
194.344
-0.11%
 
Happy Tower
Elex
126.733
-3.41%
Odnokl…
Shadow Fight
Nekki
4.726.516
+1.72%
 
Kolkhoz
i-Jet
3.446.812
-0.10%
SchuelerVZ
Goodgame Poker
Good Game
148.284
+1.17%
 
Wobbix, das Quiz
Quiz-Fabrik
151.887
-0.89%
Grono
Tetris
Taito
279.240
+0.17%
 
Globetrotter
Dschini
73.789
+0.07%
Myspace
Sorority Life
Playdom
3.815.615
+0.24%
 
Mafia Wars
Zynga
13.448.603
+0.00%
NK
Gone Fishing
i-Jet
1.524.126
+1.41%
 
Urban Gangs
i-Jet
1.817.204
+0.07%
vKontakte
Zombie Farm
Vizor Interactive
3.645.767
+1.01%
 
Crouching Panda
Astrum
2.010.056
-0.25%
MailRu
Bottle
Kefir
3.073.468
+3.19%
 
Brilliant Gifts
Kitty-Applications
2.383.384
-0.19%
25Aug/11

Virtuos Reaches 800 Staff and Signs Agreement with Tencent

By Sebastian Sujka

Virtuos has announced that it has reached 800 employees. In conjunction with the announcement, Virtuos revealed that it has signed a work-for-hire development agreement with Tencent Holdings Limited, one of the largest providers of Internet, mobile and telecommunication value-added services in China, aimed at online games platforms. “Virtuos has been quietly at the forefront of the social games phenomenon, having contributed content to many of the top-10 games on the Facebook charts, since 2009,” said Virtuos CEO Gilles Langourieux. “It is a natural extension to leverage Virtuos’ engineering and game design capabilities for developing full games and we are honored to work with one of the most successful companies in China,” added Gilles Langourieux.

Virtuos added 200 staff in the first half of 2011. Two market trends are behind this growth which further validates the game-outsourcing business model. First, console game publishers are investing in bigger games for high-definition platforms, requiring larger teams integrating specialized skillsets such as level design. Second, the multiplication of online and handheld platforms is generating a demand for more small to medium titles. This has led Virtuos to grow its programming team by 50% to support the new platforms and technologies required by its clients.

24Aug/11

Interview with PaySafeCard CEO Michael Müller: Germany Market Leader in Europe when it comes to Games

By Sebastian Sujka

SocialGamesObserver: In 2000, paysafecard group released the first prepaid solution for online games and other services. What was your main motivation to get active in the gaming sector?
Michael Müller: Back in 2000, digital content was accessible free of charge. But we knew that it wouldn’t last forever and that people would sooner or later have to pay for their online newspaper just like for their hard copy. Paid content as we know it today did not exist back then – and neither did prepaid payment options designed for the internet. The general idea behind paysafecard was to create a payment method for the internet which is as convenient and secure as cash which can be used for purchasing online services and virtual goods. Just like newspapers and other services, we assumed that consoles and video games would go online someday and that the whole gaming sector would change – which is exactly what has happened. Especially with the increasing popularity of browser games and social games over the last three, four years, the online games market became very interesting for us. We saw the huge potential in the browser and role play game market and started focusing on this sector.

SGO: When did you start working with social games?
Michael: We started about two and a half years ago when social games started taking off.

SGO: Which opportunities do you see for paysafecard in this growing market?
Michael: We are very confident that our success in this market will continue. Social games are getting more and more popular which means that our target group is getting bigger every day. Another factor is that not everyone who plays online games has heard about paysafecard yet. As soon as people see the advantages that come with our vouchers, they will start using them. A prepaid voucher is the ideal solution for gamers because it is faster and more secure than a credit card whilst allowing people controlling their costs. Our experience has taught us that credit cards are usually the first payment option in every new online market, simply because that’s what people are used to. This often changes once a new business or company has reached a certain growth. That’s when alternative payment solutions become important. Especially in the online and social games industry, the market for alternative payment is huge. We know that some of our partners’ transaction volumes are based on alternative payment solutions which account for up to 70-80% of their transactions.

SGO: You founded paysafecard group in 2000. Can you name a few important milestones of your company regarding online games?
Michael: One of the first games that accepted paysafecard as a payment method was Habbo. Other highlights are browser games in general and our success on the German speaking market with partners like Gameforge, Gamigo and Bigpoint, Frogster and many others. We are also very happy about our progress in the social gaming sector over the last one and a half years. Users can use their paysafecard for purchasing Facebook Credits – a virtual currency for more than 200 games and applications on Facebook. It goes without saying that this is a massive step for us into the social games market.

SGO: Are paysafecard customers typically reluctant to use their credit card online or do they simply don’t have a credit card?
Michael: The credit card penetration in Germany is 26%. Just like in many other European countries, people normally use debit cards which cannot be used online. Some people don’t want to have a credit card as the annual charge is too high if you use the card just once or twice a year. Other people do not get a credit card because of their credit rating. For them, a prepaid voucher is the ideal solution as it enables them to play their favourite game whilst controlling their expenses. With paysafecard, one has to pay up-front which means that users can’t spend more money than they actually have. But most of our customers simply do not want to use their credit cards online because they don’t want to give away their personal data. Especially parents prefer to get a paysafecard for their children rather than giving them their credit card to pay for their online games or virtual goods.

SGO: Can you describe the typical paysafecard user?
Michael: There is no typical paysafecard user. It really depends on the country, the region and the sector. The majority of our customers are between 16 and 49 years old – which is a higher average age than people would expect. The average transaction [the amount of credit uploaded in a game] is about 20 Euros and the average total amount per user is about 40 Euros per month.

SGO: How do you see the growth in the European gaming industry?
Michael: The figures are great and I am expecting the growth to continue. Germany is without a doubt the market leader in Europe – not only in terms of user numbers but also in terms of developers. Asia is surely ahead of all, but the US, driven by Silicon Valley, is extremely strong as well. However, I am very positive about the European market. Germany has a very good infrastructure with broad band internet being more common than in Eastern Europe, to name just one example. Berlin and Hamburg are also the capitals of the European online games industry. There are so many good and successful game publishers in those two cities alone, it’s unbelievable. The UK, on the other hand, is a great market for games, but it is narrowed down to consoles. There is still a lot of potential in France and Italy too. We operate in 28 countries and each market is different, but we definitely expect a general growth for many years to come.

23Aug/11

Reckitt Benckiser Debuts Mobile Racing Game

By Gary Merrett

Reckitt Benckiser (RB), the leading global household, health and personal care company  and parent of Clearasil, Lysol, Woolite and other iconic brands, has unveiled  turbo RACER, a new free online game and afree mobile racing game app available on iTunes, as part of the company’s corporate awareness program.  The game, based on a racing platform, is designed to metaphorically underscore the essence of working at RB – a fast-paced and exciting corporate environment. turbo RACER is RB’s third launch in a successful  series of innovative online games such as ‘poweRBrands’ and UrbAN THRILL.   With each of these mobile games, RB deepens its engagement with its target audience – students and those driven young professionals who are early-on in their careers – in a fun and informal way. The successful April launch of UrbAN THRILL, which is based on the cityscape sport of freerunning, has already been played over 490,000 times organically in the first three months.

RB chose a racing platform for this newest game to help reinforce the company’s invigorating and rapid-paced corporate culture.  turbo RACER challenges gamers’ racing skills, much like young professionals are routinely challenged and excited in their day-to-day jobs at RB.  In turbo RACER, the player navigates a kite which flies through a student’s home, quickly navigating around some of RB’s iconic household brands, touched by millions of consumers each day, such as Durex, Woolite, Finish and French’s.  Andraea Dawson-Shepherd, SVP global corporate communications at RB, drew the following comparison:  “I often describe our culture at RB the same way I would describe a Formula 1 racing car:  all engine, all go.  Very fast moving, but no frills, and no cruise control button.”