Socialgamesobserver

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

16Nov/11

Kabam Partners with GameStop and Best Buy to Release Pre-Paid Game Cards

By Gary Merrett

Hardcore social games developer Kabam today announced the release of new pre-paid Kabam Game Cards at GameStop and Best Buy nationwide. All Kabam games are free to play online, but the game cards allow players to purchase powerful in-game items for any Kabam title, including IGN “Reader’s Choice Facebook Game of 2010” Kingdoms of Camelot, without requiring a credit card. As a bonus, each Kabam Game Card rewards players with a mystery item.

Kabam Game Cards, which are available in $25 and $50 denominations, can be redeemed for in-game currency. Players use this currency to purchase in-game items that speed up progress, gain new powers, or unlock hard-to-find items in Kabam games Kingdoms of Camelot, Dragons of Atlanti, The Godfather: Five Families, Edgeworld, Global Warfare, and Glory of Rome. The Game Cards can be applied to any Kabam title on Facebook, as well those titles also available on Kabam’s website

“The introduction of Kabam Game Cards is an important step forward in our continuous search for new and better ways to serve our audience of core gamers,” said Chris Carvalho, Chief Operating Officer of Kabam. “The availability of pre-paid Kabam Game Cards at these two leading game retailers validates the rise of hardcore social gaming as a mainstream activity and allows more players to enrich their game experience with powerful in-game items.”

The pre-paid game cards will be available at over 4,600 GameStop and 1,100 Best Buy storefront locations across the US. The Kabam Game Cards can also be purchased as gifts, tapping into an increasingly popular holiday practice.

16Nov/11

Men vs Women – Social Point Takes War of the Sexes to Facebook in New Strategy Game

By Regina Leuwer

Spanish social game developer Social Point – known for the popular strategy title Social Empires – opens a new battlefield with Men vs Women. The brand new game was introduced by Facebook’s Julien Codorniou, European Head of Gaming Partnerships, in his keynote at Social Gaming Summit London, earlier this week. Codorniou named Social Point as one example of European developers successfully innovating on Facebook’s game platform right now.

Men vs Women picks up the basic game elements from Social Empires but adds more polished graphics and storytelling, including cut scenes similar to those in PC or console games.

Upon entering the app, each player is prompted to take a side according to gender. The game is set in 2016 with two different scenarios: Female players fight against world domination of men and their leader Hannibal. In the male version, the world is enslaved by women and their commander Ms. Evilia. Either way, the player joins resistance to fight suppression from the other sex. The gender conflict is not resolved through communication but using weaponry, troops and other military resources.

Men vs Women offers a new twist to the strategy genre. It’s too early to tell if this approach is succeeding; currently, the game has 40,000 monthly active users.

16Nov/11

PapayaMobile Partners with Tapjoy for App Discovery Marketplace

By Gary Merrett

Mobile social gaming network PapayaMobile partners with ad offer provider Tapjoy for a new tool named Social Marketplace – an Android app discovery and advertising marketplace that will be available to developers by the end of the year. The Social Marketplace combines Papaya’s social network with Tapjoy’s app install offerings, suggesting users apps to install based on what their friends are playing. Apps will be suggested based on their popularity among Papaya friends. For privacy reasons, recommendations will be calculated using anonymous data.

PapayaMobile, headquartered in Beijing, provides tools for game developers and content for players on its social mobile network. The company claims to reach over 35 million users worldwide.

16Nov/11

Qualcomm Announces Snapdragon GameCommand Game Suite for Android

By Thorsten Bleich

Chip builder Qualcomm is expanding its Snapdragon GamePack and launching a new showcase app – Snapdragon GameCommand.

Additions to the Snapdragon GamePack include several new, gaming titles that will be available through the Android Market early 2012 and will be limited to devices using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors. Titles include: adventure game The Ball from Tripwire Interactive, which is debuting on mobile, Fight Game Heroes from Khaeon Gamestudio and GALAGA Special Edition, an arcade game from NAMCO BANDAI Games.

The new Snapdragon GameCommand aims to provide mobile users a way to quickly find and learn about Snapdragon featured and exclusive games. San Diego-based Qualcomm has shipped more than 483 million chips this fiscal year.

14Nov/11

Game of the Week: Woodland Heroes Features Flying Pigs and Lots of Comic Action

By Regina Leuwer

The current game of the week, Woodland Heroes, is a newcomer to challenge the established creators of social games. Row Sham Bow, the venture-backed developer of Woodland Heroes comprises a team of industry veterans (CEO Philip Holt is a former executive at EA Tiburon studio), and accomplished artists. Their mission: create something ‘different from the average Facebook games’. So far, Woodland Heroes is still fairly small but during the last two weeks, the game has seen an impressive growth rate.

Developer: Row Sham Bow
Genre: Action, Strategy
Platform(s): Facebook
Launch: October 18, 2011
Languages: English
Monthly Active Users: 120,000 (November 14)
Monetization: Free-to-play with paid premium currency

What’s inside?
A band of cute comic racoons fights comic bears and their evil king with the help of catapults, various allies and advanced tactics.

What’s it all about?

King Bear has taken over the forest – the Woodland Heroes need help to fight him back.

The player is made leader of the Woodland Heroes to fight against the bears and regain possession of the forest’s important landmarks. On this journey, an adventure story unfolds around the disappearance of the hero’s father.

How to play
Players try to conquer strategic places on the map from the bears in six distinct regions and 56 unique locations – from lush forests, to swampy and barren bogs, to snow-capped mountains of the north. Catapult-like weapons are used to aim and fire at the bears’ command posts hidden in the forest. Very similar to the classic Battleship game, the opposing parties take turns.

When all of the bears’ weapons are destroyed, Woodland Heroes win the battle, earn coins and can upgrade their equipment. The Woodland Heroes use creative arms, called Acorn Cannon or Leafapult. Simple weapons can be bought with in-game currency. Fancier machines, like the Swine-Saw Launcher that shoots pigs at the enemies, are purchased with Facebook credits. Moving the batteries across the map consumes energy that refills over time, or can be purchased with Facebook Credits as well.

Enemies are hidden, so weapons are fired blindly, Battleship style.

Woodland Heroes also features classic social games elements, e.g. resource management to produce supplies, or adding neighbors for additional support.

Bottom line
The game has a complex story, yet it’s simple to pick up with lovable characters and a well-designed scenery. The concept of catapult usage and its comic-like style bears a slight resemblance to Rovio’s mobile smash hit Angry Birds. Woodland Heroes could potentially become a success with social gaming audiences who enjoy action and a little humor.

11Nov/11

Wrap Up: This Week on PaymentObserver

By Sebastian Sujka

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

Friday, November 11th 2011

Nokia And PayMate to Provide Mobile NFC Payments in India

Thursday, November 10th 2011

PayPal Releases a New Version of its Android App Featuring NFC P2P Payments

Wednesday, November 9th 2011

Interview With Georg Schardt of Payment Network AG on The Release of Rechnung by Sofort

Tuesday, November 8th 2011

Mopay Upgrades its Mobile Payment Platform to Provide HTML5 Features

Monday, November 7th 2011

Intuit and AT&T Collaborate to Offer Mobile Credit Card Processing to Small Businesses

11Nov/11

Browsergames Forum 18th-19th November 2011

By Gary Merrett

Update: For the first time the browsergames forum (bgf2011) focuses on investor relations as the games industry continues to be one of the fastest growing industries of our times. It is one of the oldest and best attended events within the online-, mobile-, social- and browsergames industry in Germany. This year, the event will take place in Offenbach (close to Frankfurt/Main) on the 18th/19th of November.

GamesLounge: Finance seeks Games
Investors will present themselves in two Finance seeks games panels, hosted by the investment companies CatCap GmbH and Corporate Finance Partners (CFP). The bgf will feature networking opportunities with a large number of early- and late stage investment companies so that web games companies can find the perfect fit. According to the bgf team, there will be a net worth of over a billion Euros in investment power at the table.

Bgf2011 has grown from a regional event in 2005 to an international conference with more than 500 participants and companies from all over the world in 2010. The two day event brings together high profile managers and decision-makers from the games industry and provides insights in current trends, strategies and industry-relevant figures. bgf also provides a recruiting and talent platform in cooperation with universities and other educational institutions.

11Nov/11

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

By Gary Merrett
Network
Game
Developer
Users
Gain
Orkut
Guitar Flash
gamesx
3.676.607
+2.08%
 
Pet mania
Vostu
2.555.082
+0.00%
Tuenti
Pooltastic
Metrogames
270.334
+8.14%
 
South Park Beach
Devilish
152.347
-25.11%
Lokalisten
Frohe Ernte 3
Elex
18.887
+0.05%
 
gimigames
gimigames
39.795
-0.25%
StudiVZ
Dorfleben
halfquest
238.251
+0.11%
 
wobbix Quiz
Quiz-Fabrik
283.436
-0.48%
Odnokl…
World Poker
Crazy Games
6.187.526
+1.98%
 
Happy Farm
i-Jet
8.966.889
+0.23%
SchuelerVZ
Backyard Monsters
Collective
217.399
+0.10%
 
Crazy Charly
Plinga
243.880
-0.65%
Grono
Surgery
Neomedia
86.704
+0.89%
 
Sonic
Dennis-Gid
85.981
-0.76%
Myspace
Mobsters
Playdom
15.712.851
+0.03%
 
Mafia Wars
Zynga
13.449.591
+0.00%
NK
Gone Fishing
i-Jet
1.717.302
+0.69%
 
Happy Harvest
Elex
2.807.947
-0.15%
vKontakte
Wormix
Oksana
8.471.465
+3.55%
 
Happy Harvest
i-Jet
6.712.992
-0.41%
MailRu
Paradise Garden
Astrum
4.014.947
+0.95%
 
City
Astrum
3.079.566
-0.07%


10Nov/11

TwinKomplex: A New Genre of Social Games?

By Sebastian Sujka

Despite the enormous success of social games, mainstream media criticizes the lack of creativity. One of the reasons might be the overwhelming number of farming games that came along with the initial boom. A game that certainly cannot be blamed for the lack of creativity is TwinKomplex. The game has been produced for over a year now in and about one million euros has been spent on it.

The game was created in Berlin by virtual economy expert Dr. Martin Burckhardt and the company Ludic Philosophy. TwinKomplex is a project that received widespread coverage in the media. The game gained a lot of attention by working with local actors and keeping the fundamental gameplay a secret.  In total, 22 artists are working on the project, including five authors to write the complex plot story. TwinKomplex was advertised as what it is not. It was referred to as “not a game”, “not a book”, “not a movie” or “not a graphic novel”. Recently, Ludic Philosophy declared that TwinKomplex is a social game.

We can conclude with certainty that TwinKomplex is a game. The idea like this: The player starts as a secret service member who is trusted with the mission to solve a mysterious case with a group of three other unknown players. The groups of four receive a set of clues. Depending on how these clues are used the outcomes vary. It is impossible to narrate the plot of the game as the outcomes depend on the individual group. The set of actors, writers and other artists moderate the different groups of agents and provide them with reading material, video sequences or complex personality test to fulfill their mission.

TwinKomplex intends to bring the player in a position where the differences between game and reality becomes blurry. To do so the player is provided with a set of real maps or video sequences that have to be used to solve the case. To make it harder, the player is never sure if he interacts with the other three players, with actors of if he receives a fake message.

TwinKomplex is played in a browser but uses Facebook to post messages or to invite friends. Currently it is only possible to play with strangers but according to the company it will be made possible to play with friends – for a certain fee. TwinKomplex will be financed with the sale of virtual goods. Due to the complexity of the game the monetization is ambitious: Ludic Philosophy wants 10% of their aimed for 100.000 users to pay 3-10 Euros a month for virtual goods. The game will launch on Monday next week and will be available on every browser – initially only in German and English.

It is hard to say if TwinKomplex is a social game. It is not directly played on a social network but utilized the social graph. Due to the complexity and individual groups of players that need to be moderated, the game is certainly not made for a mass audience. As we are stuck without a widely accepted definition of social games, this will be up to debate.  TwinKomplex, however, is certainly innovative and an interesting game concept with following.

10Nov/11

Kontagent Closes $12 M Series B Funding

By Sebastian Sujka

User analytics company Kontagent today announced that it has closed $12 million in Series B financing. The investment was led by Battery Ventures, with continued participation from Maverick Capital and Altos Ventures. Roger Lee, General Partner at Battery Ventures, will join Kontagent’s Board of Directors.

According to Kontagent the market continues to move toward “big data” and deep data science and the company will invest more heavily in building products and features that provide sophisticated data mining and predictive analytics capabilities.

Kontagent was one of the first players in social application analytics and are working with publishers and media companies as EA, Warner Brothers, Popcap, Ubisoft or Gaia.  The Kontagent kSuite analytics platform provides stakeholders with the ability to optimize their customer economics.