Socialgamesobserver

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

31Jan/12

Who is Who in Europe: Crowdpark

By Sebastian Sujka

European developers are gaining momentum on Facebook and other platforms. In this series we aim to highlight the most important social gaming companies from Europe.

This week we take a look at Crowdpark from Germany – a social betting company who recently expanded into social casino games.

  • Name: Crowdpark
  • What they do: Crowdpark is pioneering social betting and casino games which bring the thrill of legal betting to the world of social gaming.
  • Location: Crowdpark was founded in Berlin with headquarters in Berlin and an office in San Francisco.
  • Founded by: Martin Frindt (CEO), Ingo Hinterding (CPO), Christoph Jenke (COO)
  • Founded in: April 2009
  • Funding: Earlybird Venture Capital, Target Partners, Business angels – funding total to date: EUR 6M
  • Number of employees: 30
  • Games published on: Facebook, Web, mobile (iOS and Android – coming soon)
  • Game genre(s): Social betting games (a genre introduced by Crowdpark), social casino games
  • Games:
    Bet Tycoon –  released in January 2011 (currently 30,000 monthly active users on Facebook)
    Pet Vegas – released in January 2012 (currently 20,000 monthly active users on Facebook)
    90Live – official release in February 2012
  • Working with publisher(s): No
  • Languages: English, German, Spanish, Turkish
  • User demographics by gender:
    Social betting games – majority male
    Social casino games – majority female players
  • User demographics by location: North America, Western Europe, and emerging and Facebook markets such as Brazil, India, Indonesia and Turkey.
  • Most expensive virtual item: Customized outfits for Betty, the Bet Tycoon secretary
  • Best-selling virtual items: Betty’s sexy outfits (Bet Tycoon)
  • What do you see as currently most exciting trend in the industry?
    Casino games are one of the hottest growth categories of social games. International Games Technology recently announced that they will acquire DoubleDown Interactive, a social casino games company, for $500M. The social games industry is excited about the social nature of betting and gaming and synergies between social games and igaming.
    Rumors are circulating that Facebook could allow real-money gaming on their platform. Crowdpark remains dedicated to our identity as a social betting and casino games company only dealing in virtual goods. Nonetheless, we welcome the bridge between social gaming and igaming.
30Jan/12

Game of the Week – RISK: Factions Occupies Facebook

By Regina Leuwer

Board games are the original social games. Most of us have played them for hours on end with friends and family members. EA’s RISK:Factions is this year’s first promising newcomer and proves that the classic Risk is not a museum piece after all.

Developer: EA
Genre:
Strategy
Platform(s):
Facebook
Launch:
January 17, 2012
Language(s): English
Monthly active users: 740,000 (on Facebook, January 30)
Monetization: Free-to-play with paid premium currency

What’s inside?

A strategic turn-based board game about world domination reinvented for the Facebook platform.

How to play

Just like in the original Risk players place troops on a map and aim to conquer the world. RISK: Factions stays true to its roots by using the most successful game mechanic of all times – a dice.

RISK: Factions lets the dice decide each battle - of course having significantly more troops helps.

When fighting over a patch on the map, both the attacker and the defender roll dices which decide the outcome of the battle. The player turn sequence of deploying troops, attacking and defending was also adopted from the board game. Interestingly, RISK: Factions diverges considerably from the typical social game pattern by not including an energy bar, which usually limits players’ actions to entice paying for virtual currency. RISK: Factions however allows users to move their troops on the map and attack as much as they like per turn as long as troops are available. The game’s hard currency Stars is used to purchase advanced weaponry and other useful utilities to provide an edge in combat.

Players aim for world domination by conquering territory on the game's many different maps.

Unlike other social games that often coerce players into adding more Facebook friends to advance,
RISK: Factions can be played entirely in single-player mode. But of course striving for world domination is more fun when competing with real people. The game’s social features include multiplayer against friends or strangers, leaderboards and cooperative interactions such as gifting or visiting allies and assisting them in building their military base with training grounds to generate troops or factories to build weapons.

Players can either fight as the human faction, an army of cats, and a militia of brain-starved Zombies. Each faction comes with unique strengths, strategy, and quirky special weaponry. These whimsical characters are not part of the original board game; they add a little comic relief and characteristic social game style.

27Jan/12

Kobojo Releases Mobile Version of its Successful City Building Game PyramidVille

By Thorsten Bleich

French social games publisher Kobojo has announced PyramidVille for mobile devices, starting with an iOS version. Kobojo is co-publishing the app named PyramidVille Adventure with BulkyPix in French, English, Italian, Spanish and German.
Kobojo’s original PyramidVille takes players to ancient Egypt where they build a city and manage its resources. The game comes in 6 languages (French, English, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese) and currently has 740,000 monthly active users on Facebook.

The mobile version introduces new features, such as mini-games to accelerate time, that build on the River Nile as a key factor in Egypt’s development.
“Like we said at the LeWeb’11, Kobojo successfully epitomizes SoLoMo, which stands for ‘social, local, mobile’. This mobile version only strengthens our position in France and makes Kobojo a competitor to watch closely in Europe,” commented Franck Tetzlaff, CEO and founder of Kobojo.

26Jan/12

Social Networks in Focus: Tuenti

By Sebastian Sujka

Facebook currently represents only about a third of worldwide traffic for social networks, according to a recent white paper released by social games and apps platform Viximo and Superdata Research. The non-Facebook category of social gaming will represent the bulk of worldwide revenue generated in the social gaming market, the study states.

Further, the study found that non-Facebook platforms in Western markets will be responsible for nearly one-quarter of worldwide social gaming revenue within the next three years and that the majority of social gaming revenue is made on other platforms, beyond the borders of North America, where Facebook is the clear market leader.

These recent findings as well as strongly increasing user acquisition costs on Facebook are reason enough for us to examine international social networks that might offer opportunities to social game developers. In the second part of our weekly series we present the key facts on the biggest Spanish social network Tuenti.

•  Name: Tuenti

•  Country: Spain

•  Founded in: 2006

•  Owned by: Telefonica

•  Specifics: Social networking, Games (casual and social), Premium video content

•  Employees: 200-500

•  Offices in: Madrid and Barcelona, Spain

•  Membership: Invite only

•  Languages available: Spanish, Catalan, Basque, Galician, English

•  Age restrictions: 13+

•  Audience: 12 million

•  Audience demographics: Students/young people

•  How many games live: 20 social games, 60 casual games

•  Own virtual currency: Tuenti Créditos

• Top5 Games: Backyard Monsters (Viximo/Kixeye), Fitness City(Pyro Studios/iZ), Texas a lo Grande (Metrogames/Viximo), Parchis(Playspace), Millionaire City(Plinga/Viximo) -based on Tuenti rankings for social games

•  Open/closed for developer: Closed

•  Revenue share for developer: 70%

• Payment systems: Credit/debit cards, Mobile phone, Landline phone, PayPal, Paysafecard, Offers

• Other relevant info: Very little banner advertising (the site aims for a clean, curated experience); video ads have been introduced over time

26Jan/12

Prism Casino Infographic: What Makes Social Games so Popular?

By Sebastian Sujka

25Jan/12

Angry Birds are Finally Coming to Facebook on Valentine’s Day

By Regina Leuwer

Finnish developer Rovio has announced on its company blog that Angry Birds will be released as a social game on Facebook on February 14.

The Facebook iteration has been long anticipated, after originally being scheduled for release last spring. A web version of Angry Birds is already live in the Google Chrome Webstore and on Google+.

Angry Birds, which turned two in December 2011,  has been downloaded more than 600 million times, making it the most popular app ever as well as one of the fastest growing international brands.

Mobile game development studio Rovio was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Espoo, Finland.

25Jan/12

Who is Who in Europe: Kobojo

By Sebastian Sujka

European developers are gaining momentum on Facebook and other platforms. In this series we aim to highlight the most important social gaming companies from Europe.
First in line to answer our questions is Kobojo from France.

  • Name: Kobojo
  • What they do: Kobojo is the number one publisher in France of social games on Facebook and one of the European leaders.
  • Location: Founded in Paris, France, where the headquarters are. Two local offices: Madrid, Spain (September 2011) and Berlin, Germany (November 2011).
  • Founded by: Four EPITA Alumnis: Franck Tetzlaff, CEO, Vincent Vergonjeanne, VP Product & Strategy, Philippe Desgranges, Product RD Manager and Sébastien Monteil, Chief Technology Officer.
  • Founded in: 2008
  • Funding: €5,3 million, investors: ID Invest and Endeavour Vision
  • Number of employees: 70
  • Games published on: Facebook, Windows and Windows Phone 7, iPhone
  • Game genre(s): Casual games, city builders
  • Games: PyramidVille (170,000 DAU, 740,000 MAU on Facebook), Atlantis Fantasy (70,000 DAU, 210,000 MAU on Facebook), Goobox (180,000 DAU, 860,000 MAU on Facebook), Goobox Windows, Goobox iPhone
  • Working with publisher(s): OUAT Entertainment, Bulkypix and Peakgames
  • Languages: French, English, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese
  • User demographics: 53% women; more than half of the gamers play in French, Spanish comes next before Italian, English and German
  • Best-selling virtual items (all from PyramidVille):
    · Vine (decoration)
    · Cleopatra’s Garden: new, for advanced players – it generates materials such as wood or papyrus
    · Water Canals: new – before, players used troughs to make navigable canals
    · Campfire with potful – there is also a campfire alone, but players prefer the better version of it including the potful
    · HouseVilla: deluxe small palace, advanced house
  • Most expensive virtual item: Cleopatra’s Oriental Palace: 100 Gemmes, between 200 and 100 Facebook Credits (between €16 and €8)
  • What do you see as currently most exciting trend in the industry?
    We see several trends on the market: skill gaming/casino games are entering the market, the multiplayers mode is on the way, too.
    But for us, the MOST exciting is multiplatforms: PyramidVille, our #1 hit on Facebook, is going to be launched on iOS (iPhone and iPad) under the name of PyramidVille Adventure at the end of January. Mobile platforms allow us to provide with more game experience, that undoubtedly will be enhanced and give more satisfaction to out gamers.
25Jan/12

With King.com’s Bubble Witch Saga Another Prominent Player Joins the Google+ Games Family

By Regina Leuwer

King.com has released Bubble Witch Saga on Google+ – a highly successful bubble shooting game with 4 million daily active users on Facebook. It’s King.com’s first game on Google’s social network.

“King.com’s mission is to bring quality games to players across the globe via any platform,” said Riccardo Zacconi, CEO at King.com. “Integrating the Google+ game API made it simple to port Bubble Witch Saga over to the network. We are looking forward to having more of our popular games extended to the platform.”

“Bubble Witch Saga’s engaging game dynamics make it a great addition to the Google+ games family. We look forward to working with King.com to introduce their other casual social games to the G+ community,” commented a Google+ spokesperson.

Other leading developers such as Zynga (CityVille, Mafia Wars 2), Playdom (Gardens of Time), Wooga (Diamond Dash, Bubble Island, Monster World) or Kabam (The Godfather Five Families) are already publishing on Google+ Games. The platform now encompasses 36 titles across different genres.

According to Google CEO Larry Page, Google+ has 90 million users – how many of these users are playing games is unclear.

24Jan/12

UK’s Bossa Studios Aims to Raise the Bar for Real-Time Multiplayer Social Gaming

By Regina Leuwer

London-based social games developer Bossa Studios made the headlines even before publishing its first game. Founded in late 2010, Bossa was acquired in September last year by Shine TV, owned by Rupert Murdochs News Corp.
The acquisition was an accelerator for the small company. “Overnight Bossa Studios started to gain momentum, being able to go after the incredible talent we needed to execute our plans,” Bossa’s co-founder and Marketer-in-Chief Roberta Lucca tells us. Getting acquired so early wasn’t the plan, it just happened. Shine was looking to complement its digital strategy with a games division, and Bossa was looking for long-term funding. “On top of that came the incredible TV brands and formats Shine owns, now open to become social games,” says Lucca.

Social is about making an impact – such as ruining a friend’s city

Bossa’s first game Monstermind was released on Facebook in early November 2011. Lucca describes it as a departure from traditional social games, but not a complete rupture with the format. “We look at social gaming as necessarily multiplayer, in real time, while other games simply use friends as resources,” she tells us. “It’s player-versus-player arena, where your actions have a social impact on your friends’ play experience. That’s what social is all about, not begging for things and being forced to recruit more people in order to keep on playing,” Lucca believes. In Monstermind players can (and should) destroy their friends’ cities by releasing giant B-movie monsters against them, and defend their own city from a subsequent revenge.

Hardcore social games still have the ‘chicken and egg’ issue

Under the hood, Monstermind is more like a MMORPG than the traditional social game. This approach was a lot of effort, Lucca admits, but she is very confident it was worth the trouble. “We built a platform that is years ahead of anything our competitors currently have, and that will enable constantly more advanced games.”

Bossa's Monstermind - an MMORPG disguised as city building game.

To live up to the big words, Bossa Studios will need  a lot of staying power. Though Monstermind was well-received, the game shared the fate of many others and has been losing players constantly, down to 190,000 monthly active users.
Maybe Bossa’s second title, to be released later this year, will turn things around. Development is in full steam under guidance of creative director Yoshifusa Hayama who joined Bossa from Sony late last year.

Not unlike companies such as Kabam or Supercell, Bossa Studios is betting on hardcore social gaming. “But social players are not ready for hardcore gameplay experiences, and sadly hardcore gamers think social games are not worth their time, so we have a kind of ‘chicken and egg’ situation here,” thinks Lucca.

What’s next? 3D graphics and real-time storytelling

So what will the next Bossa game look like? “With Monstermind we traveled the player-versus-player roads, now we’ll embark on cooperative gameplay instead, but again in real-time if your friends happen to be online along with you. And the production levels will raise the bar for others to follow, as we’ve shifted to 3D, characterization, storytelling and, as you can expect, a strong and established IP behind it all,” Lucca explains.

Needless to say, the company will also be testing the waters for mobile games this year, starting with a Monstermind companion app. Other fields of interest include location-based games aligned with the second-screen usage linked to television and streamed shows.

23Jan/12

Welsh Developer MGames Releases Lord of the Rings Social Game

By Gary Merrett

MGames, a developer from Wales, has launched The One Ring, a role-playing social game on Facebook, based on The Lord of the Rings trilogy of books by J.R.R Tolkien.

The game was created under license from Middle-earth Enterprises. Users join the quest to defeat Sauron, form a fellowship and work together to save Middle-earth. They complete quests, choose from a variety of items, and partake in player-vs-player battles.