Socialgamesobserver

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

30Nov/11

Guest Post: Top 5 Mistakes in Online Game Payments

By Sebastian Sujka

With so many payment options, it can get quite confusing trying to decide what’s best for your online game whether you are just starting out, or indeed well established in your field. Shopping carts, localization, security and online payments; these are some of the important things you will be thinking about when considering what’s best for your online business. With the help of Gate2Shop we present a top 5 list of common mistakes made by online game developers that don’t have the optimal e-commerce solution for their exact needs:

1. Website not localized
Quite often, we see online businesses that want to sell globally – whether it is software, games or other virtual goods. They invariably hit a brick wall if their site isn’t optimized for all the regions they are targeting; hard to sell in Spain when your site doesn’t include Spanish!  It’s important that your provider can work with you on these types of customizations.

2.
Local payment methods not comprehensive
Another problem that is often seen with poor localization is when payment methods that are popular in a particular region aren’t accepted.  For example, AstroPay Card is a very popular virtual pre-paid card in Brazil. Boleto is also a payment option widely popular in Brazil. So, not offering those payment methods if you want to sell in Brazil is pretty much guaranteed to give poor returns in that region.

3. Cumbersome checkout process
Too many clicks. Too many pages. Too much redirection. This is the part where you hope the customer actually parts with their hard earned cash, so it’s very important to keep them in the frame of mind that they are happy to spend their money.  If not, the customer will just get fed up with the process and walk away. Your payment pages must be optimized for speed, ease of use – and security.  You should also be looking for ways to have the player pay without the need to leave the game; payment should be placed right inside the game for speed and convenience.

4. Security settings
Poorly configured security settings can lead to all sorts of problems with the processing of payments.  Perhaps one of the most severe is to be placed on a blacklist which would prevent use of a credit card without intervention from the issuing bank. You should also be looking for payment pages that have been secured with extended validation SSL certificates. You’ll know them by the green notice in your browser’s address bar. Your e-commerce provider should have technology to spot and prevent fraud – and have a proficient risk management team.

5. No provisions to counteract declines
It’s very important to have a system in place that can monitor and act on declined or failed transactions.  Far too often, just one failed transaction means the customer walks away from an online store for good or will not retry to buy virtual goods. It’s best if your e-commerce provider has a dedicated team dedicated to quickly resolving failed transactions due to bank declines. Not only does it impact the sale, but it can cause a customer to walk away for good – and it’s well known customer loyalty is an important part to the success of any business.

About Gate2Shop
Gate2Shop
is a provider of e-commerce solutions specifically designed for the software, games and digital service industries. The Gate2shop solution gives vendors a complete e-commerce platform to market and sell their products online, including Risk Management, Affiliation, Fraud Prevention and Payment Processing. Gate2Shop has a decade of experience in the e-commerce industry and provides over 85 local, international and alternative payment methods, in more than 160 countries.

30Nov/11

Vostu’s Golmania Launches on Google+

By Gary Merrett

Vostu announced today that GolMania, its real-time football (soccer) game is now available on Google+. GolMania, Vostu’s first casual game, previously launched at the end of September on Orkut and Facebook.

So far, over 35 million matches have been played and over 75 million goals have been scored – 36 million in Brazil and 39 million in other countries across the world. Every single day, over 35,000 matches are played just between players in Argentina and players in Brazil. GolMania is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese with more languages to come.

In GolMania, players face off in real-time footballs matches powered by Vostu’s multi-player engine. The game takes the player on a tour of the world’s most renowned stadiums, each of which unlocks new environments, game play and football tricks. GolMania now also features real-life famous soccer clubs.

Boca Juniors and River Plate Buenos Aires, the two most famous clubs in Argentina, will have their own stadiums in the game and players can play their teams versus each other. It features fast, arcade-style and action-packed soccer, aimed at both men and women and football beginners and experts. So far, when the legendary match-up occurs between players from Brazil and players from Italy, Brazil wins 56% of the time, Vostu shared with us.

Miguel Marino, Chief Creative Officer from Vostu said: “Vostu has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Google and we are excited to bring our social games to the emerging Google+ platform.”

30Nov/11

Kobojo Opens Office in Berlin, Germany

By Sebastian Sujka

French social games publisher Kobojo today announced the opening of their office in Berlin, Germany.  Kobojo is the largest French social game publisher.  After the opening of the Spanish office in Madrid, Kobojo keeps on growing and implementing its hyperlocalization strategy. “After France and the Latin market, Kobojo is now looking to expand its localized games and features into Germanic countries, Poland and Scandinavia. Germany is indeed one of the strongest online games market in Europe, which offers incredible opportunities for Kobojo, The new local team manages the languages of these countries and the codes of their cultures, allowing us to fully answer the needs and to enrich the experience of gamers” says Vincent Vergonjeanne, Vice President of Strategy and Products of Kobojo

“Kobojo Germany’s main objectives are to adapt its games to the above mentioned countries in the next months. We want to be very close to the players in these countries, especially in the strong German games market”, explains Lars Smidt, Country Manager of Kobojo Germany, who previously worked for Bigpoint. Germany ranks number 10 of all Facebook statistics, and number 1 in Europe in terms of social gaming revenues: it should indeed generate $250 Million ($173 Million in 2011), promising an increase of the market possibilities, according to Kobojo. With several million active users each month worldwide and already thousands in German speaking countries, Kobojo is planning to increase the numbers of its localized missions and users significantly.

29Nov/11

HTML5 in Russia: Nival Invests in Bytex

By Gary Merrett

Nival, developer and publisher of cross-platform, social strategy games, announced today it has invested in Bytex, a Russian online game development studio with extensive HTML5 experience. The investment will be used to launch Berserk: The Cataclysm, a collectible card game that is now available for players via an open beta test on Facebook.

“We believe in the collectible card game market, unlike some big publishers, and expect fans of the genre to see why we’re so excited about Berserk: The Cataclysm,” said Dmitri Karasev, founder and CEO of Bytex. “ Berserk is an IP that’s proven very popular in Europe and we expect existing fans and newcomers will enjoy the versatility HTML5 offers them when experiencing the game.”

Bytex, located in Saransk, Russia, was founded in 2004 and has focused most of its development time on collectible card games. HTML5 allows for games to be easily played through a web browser on different platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android, so games are immediately available on computers, smartphones and tablets.

Bytex will draw on the investment and expertise of the Nival team to launch Berserk: The Cataclysm, a strategic collectible card game that includes 600 unique collectible cards illustrated by prominent international artists and six types of battles, including PvP (Player-versus-Player) and PvE (Player-versus-Environment) and asynchronous PvP, allowing players to battle even when one is away from the game.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Nival is headquartered in Moscow with offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia; Minsk, Belarus; Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles; Nival currently has more than 250 employees and four development studios. Bytex was founded in 2004, currently has more than 20 developers, and its office is located in Saransk, Russia. Bytex games are available in Russian, English, German and Italian.

29Nov/11

Britain’s Newspaper “The Sun” Launches Football Legends on Facebook

By Thorsten Bleich

Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper The Sun, with around 8 million daily readers, is the first UK newspaper to make its mark on the social gaming scene after launching ‘Sun Football Legends’ on Facebook. Sun Football Legends is The Sun’s first foray into the social gaming sector and represents an expansion of the newspaper’s existing gaming portfolio which includes Sun Dream Team and Sun Bingo.

The game has a Role Playing Game format in which the player steers a promising top-flight footballer through to legendary status by navigating a series of on-field skill-based tests and off-field antics. The game has been designed in partnership with social gaming company Enteraction, a company that provides social games and white label social gaming solutions to brands, broadcasters and media owners.

Rob Painter, Marketing Director, The Sun, says: “Social gaming on Facebook represents a fantastic opportunity for The Sun to further engage a large community built around our key editorial pillar of football. We are also seeing strong interest from commercial clients wanting to exploit the benefits of in-game advertising and branded virtual goods, so we are very excited to be making this first step into social gaming.”

28Nov/11

Let’s Play Outside – Yazino Pulls its Casino Games from Facebook

By Regina Leuwer

Social casino games developer Yazino made a surprising announcement via its company blog: “We have recently shifted our games off the Facebook ‘canvas,’ creating our website as the main place to enjoy our games.”

The London-based social gaming startup offered several casino apps on Facebook, reaching nearly 420,000 monthly active users (MAU).  In the past, users were able to play both on Facebook as well as on Yazino.com. Now, players who click on apps like Slots Wheel Deal are directed to Yazino’s website and are still able to log in using Facebook Connect, keeping the same account and in-game friends.

Platform limitations are given as the reason for moving away from Facebook canvas: “Letting you play directly on our website gets rid of the narrow window of the blue-bordered Facebook environment (…) you can enjoy a wider view of the games as they’re meant to be experienced.”

Also, the company promises faster loading times and better user experience, because, on their own website, “there won’t be any more distraction from advertising at the sides of the page. That means you can focus on winning that hand, building up your bonus bank, and chatting with friends, rather than being interrupted by ads.”

Yazino plans to introduce profile pages and other enhancements to its gaming platform. Last week, the company announced High Stakes, a new slots game.

28Nov/11

SNS Plus Receives $12.5M Funding

By Sebastian Sujka

Taiwanese social games publisher SNS has raised $12.5 million from  Matrix Partners and WI Harper Group. SNS Plus focusses primarily on the Asian market and has offices in China, Taiwan and Thailand.

SNS+ proprietary technology provides server, bandwidth, specialized tech support centers, and overseas operational experience in order to reduce the cost for bringing developers’ games to market. As of June 2011, SNS+ has published more than 60 games on Facebook, and more than 15 games on other platforms such as Zingme or Friendster.

Mr. Peter Liu, WI Harper Group’s Founder and Chairman stated, “SNS+ has many advantages including in-depth market research, local platforms collaboration, local payment systems collaboration, localized operation strategies, and diverse marketing plans. “

SNS Plus not only provides a distribution channel but also great advisory services for the game developers to design the games that better fit the local environment. The company  is also developing its own games to vertically integrate the industry.

Mr. Along Chang, CEO of SNS+, commented. “Understanding the cultural differences in all of our markets, and constantly striving to meet the demands of our players is an exceptional advantage for SNS”.

28Nov/11

Game of the Week: Dungeon Crawling Fun for Casual Gamers? Hello Adventure!

By Regina Leuwer

This week’s game of the week Hello Adventure! by Swedish developer Free Lunch Design marks one of the few dungeon crawling games on Facebook. Free Lunch Design (mainly known for its arcade hit Icy Tower) is part of game studio Muskedunder Interactive, recently honored as a ‘Rising Star’ – one of 25 fastest growing young companies within the technology sector in Sweden.

Developer: Free Lunch Design
Genre: Role-Playing-Game
Platform(s): Facebook
Launch: August 2011
Languages: English
Monthly Active Users on Facebook: 120,000 (November 21)
Monetization: Free-to-play with paid premium currency

What’s inside?
A dungeon crawling fantasy RPG turned into a casual Facebook experience.

What’s it all about?
The goal is to beat all kind of monsters across a map by clearing out dungeon after dungeon in different settings.

Fun gameplay and rich settings are the key appeal factors of the game.

How to play
Typical for the genre of dungeon crawl role-playing games, there are missions that let players navigate through labyrinths, fight monsters, and loot the area for useful items. Due to the game’s casual nature, there is not exactly a deep storyline around the game’s missions and quests.

Adventures start at the player’s base camp, which can be upgraded over the course of the game.
Instead of energy, the players need health that is consumed in battle and restored over time. Health can also be regained through cooking something at the fireside.

Special items require Facebook Credits.

Players need Gold to buy cooking ingredients and equipment, e.g. better swords or armor. Gold can be earned by defeating monsters and selling magic farming produce like floating potatoes (‘Floatatoes’). More health, Gold or special items are available for purchase using Facebook Credits, which are integrated directly into the game instead of an own premium currency.

Players are prompted to add friends who are needed to complete missions and friends are encouraged to gift each other items every day.

Bottom line
An easy to pick up approach combined with rich settings and the fun of discovering more and more dungeons and creatures make the game enjoyable. Also, many of the characters and items are quite funny. Hello Adventure! is part of a new generation of social games that put emphasis on fun gameplay rather than compulsive clicking.

25Nov/11

Wrap Up: This Week on PaymentObserver

By Sebastian Sujka

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

Friday, November 25th 2011

Starbucks to Launch Mobile Payment App in UK

Thursday, November 24th 2011

VocaLink Partners With Clear2Pay & Fundtech to Offer Real-time Payment Services

Wednesday, November 23th 2011

Visa And MTN to Launch Mobile Prepaid Payment Service in Africa

Tuesday, November 22th 2011

PayPal Launches Send Money Facebook App

Monday, November 21th 2011

Google Merges Checkout And Wallet Into One Payment Platform

25Nov/11

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

By Gary Merrett

Network
Game
Developer
Users
Gain
Orkut
Guitar Flash
gamesx
3.727.327
+1.38%
Pet mania
Vostu
2.555.082
+0.00%
Tuenti
Fitness City
ZED
560.859
+13.22%
Jardines de…
Devilish
281.854
-16.72%
Lokalisten
Wilder Amazonas
Elex
10.687
-0.06%
Goodgame Poker
GG Studios
4.814
-0.29%
StudiVZ
Dorfleben
halfquest
238.345
-0.06%
Icy Tower
Plinga
164.382
-0.38%
Odnokl…
Domovyata
Pixonic
7.272.449
+1.73%
Farmandiya
Plarium
9.382.411
+0.12%
SchuelerVZ
Backyard Monsters
Collective
218.128
+0.16%
Crazy Charly
Plinga
241.131
-0.52%
Grono
Surgery
Neomedia
86.834
+0.90%
Sonic
Dennis-Gid
86.070
-0.80%
Myspace
Mobsters
Playdom
15.720.445
+0.04%
Mafia Wars
Zynga
13.449.593
+0.00%
NK
Gone Fishing
i-Jet
1.740.987
+0.51%
Urban gangs
i-Jet
1.846.672
+0.10%
vKontakte
Mysterious House
GameInsight
5.881.815
+5.09%
bubbles
Astrum
2.808.598
-0.12%
MailRu
Pet
Playform Ltd.
3.211.671
+5.85%
City
Astrum
3.075.057
-0.06%