Socialgamesobserver

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

30Aug/12

Red Robot Labs Premiers Its Newest Location-Based Game

By Gary Merrett

Marking the anniversary of the debut of Life Is Crime, the location-based massive multiplayer online game on Android and iOS, Red Robot Labs announces its upcoming fantasy game, Life Is Magic at this year’s Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle. Launching this fall for free on the Android and iOS platforms, Life Is Magic intertwines real-world locations with rapidly evolving social gameplay as players compete to become the most magical player in the world.

Players customize their character – a Mage, Monk or Machinist – and discover new players, monsters, dungeons, spells, quests and events around them. In Life Is Magic players can travel to anywhere the U.S. visit different cites, and interact with other players and discover new dungeons, loot and magic, while building their wealth, power and influence. With a strong focus on community, players form magic circles to fight monsters, build Magic Towers and ultimately defeat the monster horde.

“With Life Is Crime, we have seen that millions of people choose to play location-based games as fun social diversion in their daily lives as they wait in line, run errands and go to work,” said Mike Ouye, CEO and co-founder Red Robot Labs. “Life Is Magic raises the location game standard with an immersive world, 3D rendered locations, character depth and advanced social gameplay.”

An overarching theme in the game is collaboration. Teams of three players form a Magic Circle to fight monsters, collectively level up and grow the towers, as the game landscape evolves over time. In the game, the players must return riches stolen by a dark wizard to the Magic Towers they inhabit. As the gold and treasures are returned to the Towers and power is restored to the players, they train to become more powerful than those in the region where they live and across the land, in preparation for civil war.

24Aug/12

FiveOneNine Games Launches Political Game “Campaign Story”

By Sebastian Sujka

FiveOneNine Games announces the launch of its second title, Campaign Story, the first political Facebook game. In the game players are able to run their own political campaign, taking their political aspirations from local mayor to the White House.

Campaign Story mimics today’s current campaign and election process by giving players the chance to take control and run their campaign their way. Just like in the campaign battles taking place across the country this election season, Campaign Story is all about gaining popularity to get votes and win the election. From picking a campaign slogan, to hiring canvassers, fund raisers and campaign staff, players vie for popularity and interact with Facebook friends to increase their standing in the polls. Candidates have a choice to play clean or play dirty. It’s up to them to decide how to best climb the political ladder. It’s time to play, visit www.Facebook.com and search Campaign Story to kick-off your campaign!

“We are excited to launch our second title, Campaign Story,” says Lloyd Melnick, Chief Executive Officer of FiveOneNine Games. “With campaign season upon us, Campaign Story is a great way to let your inner politician out, campaign how you want and connect to something that is fun and socially relevant.”

To promote the launch of Campaign Story, FiveOneNine Games is unveiling ‘Capture Your Campaign Story’ Photo Contest for the BIG upcoming conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. Participants are encouraged to submit photos that best tell the story of the convention and presidential campaigns. For more information and complete rules and regulations, check out the official ‘Capture Your Campaign Story’ photo contest rules.

23Aug/12

Alan Patmore Leaves Zynga for Kixeye

By Gary Merrett

Combat strategy game developer Kixeye announced today that Alan Patmore will be joining the company as its new Vice President of Product. Patmore, who most recently served as the General Manager of CityVille at Zynga, will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of product strategy and development.

“I’m a big fan of KIXEYE and what they’ve been able to accomplish over the last couple of years. I believe that there’s a massive opportunity to bring AAA production value to core, free-to-play games and KIXEYE is perfectly positioned to lead that charge,” said Patmore. “I couldn’t be more excited about the team, strategy and product roadmap. There are some launches coming later this year that are going to set the industry on fire.”

Most recently, Patmore oversaw the success of Zynga’s key game franchises Mafia Wars and CityVille. Prior to Zynga, Patmore was Vice President of Product Development at Double Fine Productions where he was responsible for the development of critically acclaimed titles such as Stacking, Iron Brigade, and Costume Quest. Patmore was also President and CEO of Surreal Software, which he co-founded and later sold to Midway in 2004. At Surreal he was responsible for scaling the company’s development and technical capabilities including overseeing the development of its proprietary real-time game engine that powered numerous commercial and critical hits including The Suffering andDrakan franchises.

“What Alan brings to the table is a killer product instinct and an ability to deliver high quality games. Like everyone else here, he’s a passionate gamer and dedicated to taking free-to-play gaming to the next level,” said Will Harbin, CEO at KIXEYE. “We’re thrilled to have him on board.”

23Aug/12

Top Japanese Mobile Social Game Fantasica Launches on Mobage

By Gary Merrett

Mobile social games leader ngmoco and Silicon Studio Corp. have released the premium role-playing game Fantasica for iOS and Android  devices worldwide. With detailed illustrations by Final Fantasy art director Hideo Minaba, Fantasica offers gaming experience accessible on smartphones, powered by the Mobage social entertainment network.

To celebrate Fantasica’s worldwide launch, the “Demon’s Tower” in-game event kicks off today and challenges players to fight alongside, and sometimes against, other heroes to reach the top floor of the Dark Demon God’s tower, defeat the demon and rescue the princess.

In Fantasica, hordes of monsters have ravaged the once peaceful lands of the Empire. Players join forces with friends to amass an army against the incoming monster invasion, aspiring to restore peace. With strategic real-time battles, global events, regular updates and more than 200 quests to complete, Fantasica delivers an authentic, fantasy role-playing experience for gamers worldwide.

“Fantasica is one of the most beautifully illustrated games on the Mobage network today, featuring art from Minaba-san, one of the most recognizable artists in the gaming industry,” said Neil Young, Director of DeNA and CEO of ngmoco. “Fantasica turns the traditional RPG genre on its head by infusing it with elements of extremely popular card battle games.”

20Aug/12

GDC Europe 2012 Breaks Attendance Record

By Gary Merrett

The 2012 Game Developers Conference(TM) Europe (GDC Europe) concluded on Wednesday, August 15 with a successful showing and a final attendee count of more than 2100 game professionals. Professionals from all areas of the game industry gathered throughout the three day conference to learn and network. The keynote roster included industry leaders from Ubisoft Montreal’s Creative Director Alex Hutchinson, to CEO of Wargaming.net Victor Kislyi, to Epic Games senior engine programmer Niklas Smedberg. These speakers were part of the 100+ European and international speakers, 65+ exhibitors and sponsors, and more than 290 media representatives converging at the leading European conference focusing on game development on PC, social networking websites, consoles and mobile platforms. GDC Europe returns to Cologne, Germany on August 19-21, 2013.

Making its debut at GDC Europe this year was the popular Classic Game Postmortem series, first introduced at the 2011 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. GDC Europe attendees were treated to a rare postmortem for the Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye 007 from the game’s director Martin Hollis. Among the many key learning Hollis offered to attendees, he revealed that, although the game was in development for nearly three years, the popular multiplayer mode that made the game an instant classic was developed at the very last minute, and took only one month to build. The legendary first-person shooter proved to be a trailblazer for console shooters like Halo and numerous others.

Other popular sessions during the three day conference included a lecture given by Bigpoint’s Jan Richter, who heads design for free-to-play browser titles at the online game developer and publisher. Richter advised those developing free-to-play games on making a strong first impression with gamers, how to retain them for months and months, and provided attendees with an equation that calculates the “magic line” designers have to cross for their free-to-play games to become huge.

“We’re very proud that GDC Europe once again exceeded expectations in delivering best-in-class learnings and insight for the European development community thanks to our excellent lineup of international speakers and our diligent advisory board members,” said Meggan Scavio, general manager of Game Developer Conference events. “This industry is constantly evolving and growing, especially in the mobile and social games realm, and we look forward to returning next year to provide progressive opportunities for learning and networking for developers.”

VIP and All Access pass holders to GDC Europe will also gain access to the video, audio, and presentation recordings at GDC Europe shortly after the conference through the GDC Vault which will host more than 80 lectures, keynotes and panels across five Main Conference tracks (Business, Marketing & Management, Game Design, Production, Programming and Visual Arts) and three Summits (the Independent Games Summit, the Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit and the Social & Online Games Summit).

14Aug/12

HitFox Game Ventures Launch the Mobile Game Distribution Start-ups “AppLift” and “Game Finder”

By Sebastian Sujka

Only three weeks after  its  launch, HitFox Game Ventures is progressing from words to actions: with two new start-ups the Berlin-based game distribution incubator is focusing on the booming mobile gaming market.  The companies HitFox AppLift GmbH (www.applift.com) and HitFox App Discovery GmbH (www.gamefinder.de) were founded by Kaya Taner and Xavier Rezgui, in cooperation with HitFox Game Ventures  which backed the young companies with a 7-digit-€ seed investment.

“AppLift” is the first affiliate network  worldwide  that  exclusively focuses on mobile games. Game publishers profit from AppLift’s network of ‘game affiliates’, refering new mobile gamers from 50 cents  upwards. Right from the start AppLift is bundling the mobile games of numerous worldwide renowned publishers such as Gameloft, Gameforge, Kabam, TinyCo and 6waves.

Affiliates  – generally webmasters or app-administrators whose users are specifically searching for mobile games – profit from the extensive range of high-class games. While affiliate programs are one of the most common marketing channels for online games, there has been a lack of options in the growing mobile games market. Co-Founder and Managing Director Kaya Taner, previously one of the first employees at HitFox, explains the market  gap: ‘As first  affiliate network for mobile games worldwide, AppLift meets  an urgent need and sees very high demand  by affiliates and game publishers alike. We will reach the goals initially set for 2012 already in August and are now ‘raising the bar’: by the end of 2012 we want to work together with 500-1000 Affiliates who refer new gamers  on iOS, Android, and other platforms for at least 100 mobile game publishers.”

While AppLift offers performance-based affiliate-ads, HitFox App Discovery GmbH  covers the userside: Currently there are more than 100.000 Games of very different quality on the Apple App Store, which in turn makes it  hard for  gamers to find  the  games they want.  The free app ‘Game Finder’ functions as a quality filter and only shows the best mobile games, clearly laid out for  the user to choose from.

For the launch, a specialized team of game testers chose 500 games and  enriched them with additional information. At Game Finder another former HitFox-Manager became Co-Founder and Managing Director: Xavier Rezgui. HitFox Game Ventures CEO Jan Beckers states: “The mobile games market is booming and we are happy to invest a 7-digit sum into teams that have already proven themselves. We expect the growth to be accordingly fast and are looking forward to taking advantage of the numerous synergies with our existing portfolio and future start-ups.

9Aug/12

While Zynga Stocks Drop, DeNA Reports Highest Quarterly Revenue to Date

By Sebastian Sujka

DeNA has today announced its financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2012. DeNA reported record-high quarterly revenue of $609 million, 37 percent higher than same quarter last year, and operating profit of $235 million, 22 percent higher than the same period of the previous year.

DeNA reported that consumption of Moba-coin, the company’s virtual currency, was a record $689 million on Mobage’s domestic network in Japan, despite the recent regulatory concerns over the complete gacha game mechanic. In Japan, DeNA participated in establishing the Social Game Platform Liaison Council, which determined a set of guidelines for social games. DeNA removed the mechanic from its games in May, and third-party games followed prior to July 1. DeNA stated engagement and virtual currency usage increased steadily and offset the impact of the changes. Monthly Moba-coin consumption in Japan was consistent, at around $230 million, in April, May and June as well as in July. Based on this trend, DeNA forecasts quarter-on-quarter increases in revenue and operating profit of $24 million and $14 million, respectively, in the quarter ending September 30.

“Our first financial quarter of the year marked our highest global revenue to date, as well as proof positive that we are beginning to see a thriving business in the West,” Isao Moriyasu, President and CEO of DeNA, said. “We are squarely focused on our goal of building the world’s top social games platform. We will achieve this by continuing to refine our technology, building the strongest game portfolio through internal studios as well as third parties and great IP partners, and serving our customers through our platform worldwide.”

8Aug/12

Rovio and Angry Birds’s Facebook Performance

By Sebastian Sujka

The biggest Scandinavian Facebook developer, Finland-based Rovio, launched its success game Angry Birds on Facebook Valentine’s Day 2012. After a phenomenal launch the game peaked in late April at 24,000,000 monthly active users and almost 3,500,000 daily active users. The success of the launch was no surprise due to the huge brand awareness of the Angry Birds franchise. We took a closer look on what happened ever since.

End of Arpil onwards, Rovio and Angry Birds are on a constant decline when it comes to the number of Facebook users. Rovio lost 1,500,000 monthly active users just last July (from 15,300,000 million to 13,800,000 million).

Having a closer look at the stats one can see that the development is not overall negative. Rovio might have lost many MAU (monthly active users) but constantly maintained the same number of DAU (daily active users).

Rovio will probably not mind the decline in MAU too much as DAU is the currency that counts for social game developers: Daily active users are typically the ones that are spending money in the game.

Due to the DAU and MAU developments we see an increase of stickiness for Rovio. The Sticky Factor is the ration of DAU/MAU and tells you how many of the monthly active users are turned into daily active users.  If your sticky factor is 15% it means that 15% of your monthly active users are daily active users and also gives you a good estimate how many of newly acquired users will be turned into daily active users.

2Aug/12

Xyologic Releases Android Mobile App Search Engine

By Sebastian Sujka

Xyologic, a Berlin based online service for discovering mobile apps, today announced the Closed Beta release of its new Android search engine. The service harnesses new and powerful technologies that offer users a new type of mobile app exploration experience. Xyologic is also announcing having secured an undisclosed investment round from prominent venture capitalists and an angel investor, backing Xyologic’s vision for mobile app search.

For the past year and a half, Xyologic has gathered information on how users search for apps, including the queries they type and their search behavior. From their findings, Xyologic has built a powerful search engine for mobile apps which understands vaguely expressed user queries.

“We don’t claim to ‘solve’ any of the big issues of our industry. But we believe we have some new,  better answers. We are releasing our service in Closed Beta to show some of the work we have done so far, get feedback and continue our work,” said Xyologic cofounder Zoe Adamovicz.

Matthaus Krzykowski, Xyologic cofounder, said, “Mainstream smartphone users understand that apps let them do great things on their phones and tablets, however most don’t know what their options are. Less than 5% of mobile app searches include searches for app brands like Zynga or Angry Birds. Over 80% of all users put app and game genres like ‘puzzle games’ or ‘music’ into the search box. They are curious, obviously, and this is how they express their curiosity.”

Alongside their launch, Xyologic is also announcing an undisclosed investment round from Rick Thompson’s Signia Venture Partners, Klaas Kersting and Eric Wahlforss. “Mobile gaming is spearheading the mobile app revolution and hence we are particularly proud that gaming legends such as Rick and Klaas are sharing our vision,” said co-founder Zoe Adamovicz.

Xyologic intends to use the funding to increase the speed of its new app search rollout for other mobile platforms including iOS, and to continue technological leadership in the apps search engine field.

1Aug/12

Social Gambling: IGT’s DoubleDown Casino Partners with Golden Acorn Casino

By Thorsten Bleich

International Game Technology has announced that the Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center will be hosting the DoubleDown Casino application on their casino website to provide a free play gaming experience to their casino players.

Through IGT’s DoubleDown Casino application, casinos such as Golden Acorn are able to provide their players games, access to a full-casino style offering of games in one place-the casino property’s website. Adding the DoubleDown app to the Golden Acorn site allows the casino to offer their players the opportunity to participate in DoubleDown’s multi-player poker directly on their branded sites.

“Offering the same game titles on the web that we offer inside our casino gives us the unique opportunity to deliver fun and engaging casino style experiences to our players,” said David Baggerly, director of marketing at Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center. “This is an incredible chance to drive interactive slot culture to our players, while allowing them to stay connected to our brand.”

Guests of Golden Acorn will have the opportunity to participate in  social game play, directly on the casino’s website. Included in the line-up of game play are Texas Hold’Em poker, and some of IGT’s top performing slot titles, including Da Vinci Diamonds and Cleopatra.

“Golden Acorn recognizes the opportunity to provide gaming entertainment to their players across various channels,” said Eric Tom, IGT executive vice president of global sales. “This solution is allowing them to grasp an opportunity to evolve as the landscape of gaming also changes, permitting them to drive engaging game play directly to their casino guests and fans of the Golden Acorn brand.”