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


Game of the Week: Social Empires

By Regina Leuwer

This week’s game of the week, Social Empires,  is a silent winner. Without a lot of PR buzz, the relatively small Spanish developer Social Point managed to succeed in the tough social strategy genre. Social Empires has a loyal user base and is frequently listed among the fasted gaining Facebook apps. The game is recovering quickly after a user drop (from  7 to 4 million monthly active users) that affected almost every social game, because Facebook changed its method for measuring active users, earlier this month.    Social Empires

Developer: Social Point
Genre: Social Strategy, RPG
Platform(s): Facebook
Launch: January 2011
Languages: English, Spanish, German
Monthly Active Users: 4,300,000 (October 31)
Monetization: Free-to-play with paid premium currency

What’s inside?
A social strategy game where players build units and utilize resources to fight for world domination.

The village is the center of the game. The ship signifies the possibility to sail to battles.

What’s it all about?
Social Empires is a strategy game, resembling classic titles like Ages of Empires or Civilization. Players create their empire from the ground, train villagers, build houses, mills and barracks to fight against other players and conquer the world.

How to play
The gameplay is quite similar to classic social games – tasks are performed through clicking on different objects. The difference is that the player doesn’t control his own avatar but assigns villagers from his empire which are generated in the village’s central building, the Town Hall.  Villagers need houses to live in and can be employed for multiple purposes, such as farming, scraping gold or catching sheep from outside the village.

A troll fight in full swing…

The game has four resources: Gold, Stone, Wood and Food (which is always depicted as a piece of meat, even if it’s freshly harvested lettuce).  Different quantities of these resources are needed for building things like houses, mills or animal ranches.

Facebook friends can be added as neighbors to help each other out, or fight each other for sole world leadership. Players build barracks to produce different kinds of soldiers. Fighting can be practiced by defeating the trolls around the village, later in the game, other players’ empires are the main targets.

Other players can be attacked without having to be Facebook contacts.

It’s possible to control a larger group of soldiers with one click, which makes the battle a lot more convenient and fun. Solving missions and tasks provides the player with additional resources. The games’ premium currency,  Social Empires Cash, can be used to buy world wonders or special items like castles which serve not only decoration purposes but also provide an edge in combat.


6waves Lolapps Acquires Chinese Social Gaming Company Smartron5

By Gary Merrett

6waves Lolapps today announced its acquisition of Beijing-based social gaming company Smartron5. The acquisition marks 6waves Lolapps’ continued expansion into the Asian market adding to its existing Hong Kong and Tokyo offices.

“The Asian market is complex and the Smartron5 team brings western-production values with a deep understanding of how to be successful in China,” said Rex NG, CEO of 6waves Lolapps.”
6waves Lolapps’ Asian presence now leaps to more than 75 people, globally the company now employs 170 employees.

Smartron5’s CEO, Gage Galinger will become 6waves Lolapps’ Vice President of Content Development and will head up operations in China. The Smartron5 team will be focused on product development for the local social and mobile market.

Smartron5, backed by London listed private equity group Origo PLC, focuses on social games for Asian and international social networks. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.


Wrap Up: This Week on PaymentObserver

By Sebastian Sujka

The Latest News, Industry Insights and Research Findings on Global Payment Markets:

Friday, October 28th 2011

Mobile Banking App Usage in the U.S. Increases 45 Percent from Q4 2010 says comScore Analysis

Pygg Lauched Social Payment App For Twitter

Thursday, October 27th 2011

NFC-enabled BlackBerry Phones Get MasterCard PayPass Certificate

Wednesday, October 26th 2011

Fortumo Releases Mobile Payment Service for HTML5 Apps

Tuesday, October 25th 2011

Facebook to Expand the Reach of Its Virtual Currency: Facebook Credits for Websites

Commonwealth Bank Launched NFC Mobile Payment Service in Australia

Monday, October 24th 2011

GAME Group And InComm Launched Digital Wallet Service For Online Gamers

Square’s Card Reader Available In Walmart


Vostu Presents “Elemental” Exclusively for Android

By Sebastian Sujka

Social game developer Vostu unveiled its first game exclusively built for mobile: Elemental, a single player puzzle game. Developed at the company’s São Paulo studio, Elemental is a twist on the classic puzzle game of Sudoku, replacing numbers with elements (earth, water, fire and wind). Vostu has made the game available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.  Elemental is available exclusively on Android, which Google has reported is experiencing growth in both emerging and established markets, and integrates OpenFeint’s mobile social games platform to offer real-time social features to gameplay.

Matt Garlick, VP Mobile at Vostu said: “As Android continues to grow around the world, we wanted to offer an experience perfectly suited for the platform like Elemental. We look forward to players across the world trying to solve Elemental on their phones and tablets.”

Elemental is a puzzle game based on logic and memory in which the user must combine a series of elements (earth, water, air and fire) to create new elements within a 4×4 grid. The grid is divided into subgrids in which the combinations of the four primary elements must be placed to create new elements. Similar to Sudoku, the user cannot place more than one element in more than one row or column within the grid.

Elemental has two types of game play: Story mode and Survival mode.In Story mode, players encounter different worlds in which they must collect different elements to complete a given world and move onto the next. In each world, new element combinations must be discovered, making it more and more difficult to unlock new worlds. In Survival mode, the objective is to beat the clock and complete each board in a given amount of time.


Square Enix and DeNA Announce Final Fantasy Mobile Social Game

By Thorsten Bleich

Publisher Square Enix and Japanese mobile social gaming company DeNA plan to release the Final Fantasy franchise as a social game on DeNA’s mobage network. Pre-registration has already started for Japanese players, and owners of the PSP title Final Fantasy Type-0 will receiveexclusive in-game rewards. DeNA will be developing the game in-house using characters from the Final Fantasy role-playing game series.

Earlier this month, DeNA has already launched a social mobile edition of MapleStory, Nexon’s globally popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG).


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

By Gary Merrett
Wonderful City RIO
Qye Pasa
Football Legends
J. de la Muerte
Green Farm
Frohe Ernte 3
Goodgame Disco
GG Studios
wobbix Quiz
World Poker
Crazy Games
Backyard Monsters
Crazy Charly
Mafia Wars
Gone Fishing
Happy Harvest
Zombie Farm
Vizor Interactive
Happy Harvest
Paradise Garden

27Oct/11 Reaches One Billion Gameplays a Month

By Sebastian Sujka has revealed that it has surpassed one billion gameplays a month. also announced that it is strengthening its footing in the U.S. and worldwide with the opening of offices in San Francisco and Romania and the appointment of former Gamelab President, Jong Woo, as’s senior business development director of U.S.

Top 10 Facebook Developer
Over the last month,’s popular “Saga” games – Bubble Saga and Bubble Witch Saga – have generated over 600 million gameplays on Facebook alone. Additionally, with its 17.6 million monthly active users (AppData, Oct. 25, 2011), has become one of the top 10 Facebook developers across all application categories.

Expansion in the US in Focus
“We are ecstatic to have not only reached a billion monthly gameplays, but to also become a top 10 Facebook developer. It’s rewarding to see our games gain so much interest and excitement among our players – across all platforms,” said Riccardo Zacconi, CEO, “We are taking this recent momentum and expanding our reach through North America by adding an office in San Francisco and new employees to that region so we can more closely connect with our partners and gamers there.”

Romanian Office to Lead Moblie Development Operations
The new U.S. office is located in downtown San Francisco, CA and will act as the operations center for North American business development initiatives for the company.’s new Romanian office will be the center of their mobile game development operations.


PapayaMobile’s Social Game Engine and Social SDK Now Available On iOS

By Gary Merrett

PapayaMobile is expanding its product line by bringing their social development toolkits to the iOS platform as a beta release. All developers using Papaya’s Social Game Engine can now export both iOS and Android versions of their game from one code base. All developers that have both iOS and Android versions of their game can use Papaya’s Social SDK to connect users on both platforms for in-game features such as player challenges, game invitations and leaderboards.

Fragmented Mobile User Base
The mobile industry to date has struggled to create a social graph that is as large and engaged as those produced in the online space. This is partly due to the fragmentation of the mobile user base, with various platforms creating “pockets” of users, most notably the iOS pocket of users and the Android pocket of users. The expansion of the Papaya product line to iOS aims to connect these pockets to create a larger and more effective social graph.

Access to Chinese Mobile Market
PapayaMobile focuses on helping developers to create, promote and distribute cross-platform social games on Android and iOS.Several third-party titles such as X-City by Aidi Game, Contagion by 2Clams, and Burger Joint by Arctic Empire will be making their iOS debut on the Papaya network within the coming weeks. Furthermore, all developers using Papaya’s social tools will have access to PapayaMobile’s recently launched Gateway to China program; a free solution that localizes, distributes, and promotes western games to the Chinese mobile market.


New HTML5 Mobile Social Game on MocoSpace: Planet Cazmo

By Gary Merrett

This week MocoSpace is announcing that popular mobile social gaming developer Planet Cazmo is making its HTML5 gaming debut on the MocoSpace Games Platform this December with Planet Cazmo: Monster Battles. Planet Cazmo, created by veterans of LucasArts and Pileated Pictures, has developed social and mobile games and experiences for music and entertainment artists. The company is now developing new cross-platform, free-to-play titles, both original and branded.

22 Million Users, Just over 20 Games
Planet Cazmo: Monster Battles features classic monster battling, capturing and collecting, with  offbeat creatures and powers. The game will be distributed to MocoSpace’s 22 million users. MocoSpace has already launched more than 20 mobile games on its HTML5 mobile gaming platform. Other MocoSpace titles include Street Wars, Stage Hero, and Cute or Boot. MocoSpace gamers spend more than 1 million hours a day playing these and other games on the MocoSpace Game Platform.

Mobile Gaming Industry to Hit $2 Billion in Revenue
The mobile gaming industry is expected to bring in $2 billion in revenue this year, according to analyst projections. Industry Gamers reports that the global game industry will generate $60 billion in revenue for 2011, and is growing at 10% annually according to a new research report by RW Baird. This growth means that the overall industry revenue should hit $80 billion by 2014. Research from the Electronics Software Association (ESA) supports the popularity of mobile gaming, and found that 55 percent of gamers play games on their phones or handheld device.


Sid Meier’s Struggling Social Game CivWorld Announces Major Changes

By Regina Leuwer

What happens when a game created by an acclaimed developer and loved by millions of players moves to the most successful gaming platform that ever existed? Not much – at least not in the case of Sid Meier’s social strategy game CivWorld which is struggling hard with a shrinking user base and has dropped way outside the top 1,000 applications on Facebook. This week, CivWorld announced ‘big improvements’ to stop the downward spiral.

One of the new features is a customizable user experience.

The biggest of the changes is giving users the opportunity to create a custom gameplay  and  control parameters e.g. game speed, daily limit of currency, or minimum and maximum fame for the participants. Players are encouraged to invite up to 20 friends to their customized version of CivWorld.

CivWorld also introduced new functionalities around the game’s currency, CivBucks, which can be used to change the weather in battle, upgrade palaces and make workers more efficient. There are new ways to earn CivBucks in-game through participation in fame contests. Another novelty is a tower-defense-style combat minigame that can be played as many times as players want when combat is underway, in order to get a higher score.

The combat minigame offers a higher score for returning to the app more often.

All these features are designed to increase user engagement by leveraging common techniques in social gaming, such as incentivizing users to return more often to the app, or customizing their experience and enhancing virality. It remains to be seen whether these extensive changes can turn things around for CivWorld.

The game was developed by Sid Meier in association with 2K Games and Firaxi and published on Facebook in July 2011, after 22 months in development.  The launch received wide media coverage and CivWorld was expected to change the social games sphere by adding depth and appealing to classic gaming audiences. The app is a social adaptation of Sid Meier’s Civilization series that sold over ten million units worldwide. CivWorld’s all-time high was 567,790 monthly active users (MAU), currently it has 70,000 MAU.