At this year’s GDC Europe Facebook highlighted recent success stories of mostly European game developers and stressed the vital role of the App Center as well as the depth of Facebook platform integration. We spoke with Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships Julien Codorniou about well monetizing game sectors, less prominent success stories and, of course, about mobile gaming.
SGO: First, do you have any explanation why bubble shooters go crazy like this right now?
Julien Codorniou: I think the bubble game rise was caused by the developers. Maybe somebody new will come and do something bigger soon, but right now King.com, wooga, Peak Games – everybody does have a bubble game. I think the rise of Bubble Witch Saga attracted the hype.
SGO: Do you think casual is going to be the dominating genre in the near future?
Julien: Nobody can tell, but casual is very hot at the moment. But it is not only bubble games, also look at games like Candy Crush – a very good game. They (King.com) did not invent the match-3 game but it is very social and has a very deep Facebook integration. In the end the quality of the Facebook integration is decisive.
On our end we see many opportunities in hardcore games, just look at Kixeye and Kabam in the US and Plarium in Europe. Their success should be inspiring. And of course casino is still hot, Plumbee is a great example. I do not think there is one big category that is going to win. It is a very diverse ecosystem.
Julien Codorniou, Head of Platform Partnerships Facebook
SGO: What reason do you see in the rise of European developers?
Julien: Usually they are great at localization; a good example is what Peak Games is doing in Turkey. They basically take a farm game any localize it to the max. But mostly European companies just closed the gap to the US, very simple.
SGO: Which can we expect from real-money gambling?
Julien: Real-money-gambling is possible now just in the UK for users above 18 but you have to go through a very tough registration process to participate. To be clear: This is just a change in policy for one country and one partner. Gambling is very popular and legal in the UK and the market is very well regulated. Gamesys is whiter than white in terms of verification licenses. It makes sense to explore this as a social experience on Facebook because it is already a social experience outside of Facebook. We will see how it goes.
We think that social gambling (without real money) is huge anyway. Good examples here are Plumbee or Playtika who are doing great on Facebook but also on mobile. One year ago there was not a single social mobile casino game – now Playtika is the number two growing app on iOS worldwide.
SGO: What do recently successful games on Facebook have in common?
Julien: Very simple: a very high quality of platform integration. The developers who adopt the Facebook platform first usually win. Wooga and King.com do a great job here. We ship something on Monday, the next day it is live in their games. The mobile successes of Diamond Dash and Bubble Witch Saga are very prominent examples of very deep integration.
SGO: Are there some games that are not in the Top 10 or Top 20 that you would like to point out as great games and less prominent success stories?
Julien: There are games that are amazing but do not have insane amounts DAU or MAU. I am thinking about Pixel Federation – a Slavakian company that found a very good niche with their game Trainstation.
Also Mandala games, a French developer with their slot machine game La Riviera. Other than that I think of Plumbee or Miniclip.Diwip with Best Casino, also highly profitable.
Right now my favourite game though is Numbers Together. It is very well integrated in the platform and basically a “Songpop for nerds”. I is only awialable on mobile now but it is coming on Facebook soon. It is developed by Brainbow.
SGO: Mobile is crucial for Facebook, what will be the shift for developers?
Julien: We want to make every Facebook developer a mobile developer, like we have seen with wooga and Diamond Dash. Also, we want to bring mobile companies, like Rovio, to Facebook.
If a developer is just active on iOS, we bring him on Facebook. The key value proposition of Facebook right now is that if you are big on Facebook we make you big on mobile.
There is a company in Israel called Dragonplay, they have the biggest poker game on Android. Now, they will build a Facebook app on Facebook to become strong on iOS via the AppCenter.
Big on Facebook, big on mobile – this is what we are heading for. This what happened to Bubble Which Saga and King.com: they spent zero marketing budget and the game became a big overnight hit on mobile just through the Facebook integration. It was because of the bookmarks, 45 million people saw overnight that they could play Bubble Witch Saga on their mobile device. With the Facebook integration they see this on Facebook mobile and it is just one click to the AppStore.
Update: Facebook announced their event “Facebook Game Developer Summit – Moscow” on Tuesday, 2 October 2012. Click here for more information