Socialgamesobserver

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

26Sep/12

Who is Who in Europe: Telaxo France’s #1(In user base)

By Huel Fuchsberger

Telaxo is the #1 developer in France. With only 10 employees Mathieu Collas (CEO) manages to reaches over 18 Mio user (MAU). With a broad range of smaller titles they manage to appeal to a big audience spread all over the world and this mostly unnoticed.  Google only finds 16,000 results for “telaxo”. In comparison, Playdom which has the same amount of Facebook users gets 1,600,00. Even companies with far less user as Playtika manage to generate more results. Here are some details on Telaxo:

  • Name: Telaxo

    Wild Wild Taxi 1,000,000 MAU

  • Location: Telaxo was Founded in Paris and moved to Orleans.
  • Founded by: Mathieu Collas
  • Founded in: January 2004 and began
    to work on Facebook in March 2010.
  • Funding : No
  • Acquisitions : No
  • Number of employees: 10 and growing
  • Number of Games published: About 150

    Bouncing Balls 870,000 MAU

  • Top Games by MAU:
    Pool Practice
    Wild Wild Taxi
    Bouncing Balls
    Parking Mania
    Penalty Shootout
    Tower Blocks
  • Describe what you do in a sentence:
    We create casual games for our players all over the world.
  • Games published on: Facebook
  • Working with publisher : No
  • Acting as a Publisher : No
  • Publishing games in with languages: About 25 languages
    Mainly English, French, Spanish, Italian, German
  • Game genre: Casual games
  • User demographics: Mostly female (60%). All over the world
  • What do they see as currently most exciting trend in the industry:
    “Everything is going fast, everyone has to move quickly to stay on top.” – Mathieu Collas
24Sep/12

Game of the Week – TrainStation

By Huel Fuchsberger

Model trains always had a charm that appealed to many people. Not to the masses, but still to a reasonable amount of people. A good example for that is Pixelfederation’s TrainStation. Launched in October 2010 it now has 520,000 MAU and 110,000 DAU. Those are not incredible numbers, but this game is still worth taking a closer look at.

Developer/Publisher: Pixel Federation
Genre:  Simulation, Strategy
Languages:  English, German, French, Spanish, Turkish, Slovak, Polish, Indonesian, Italian, Rumanian, Dutch
Platforms:  Facebook, Browser
Active users (Facebook): 520,000 MAU 110,000 DAU

How to play

The player is in charge of his own train station and trains. His objective is to move passengers, mail and freight cars to earn gold, resources and experience points (XP). As he increases in level, he also moves forward in the time line of railroad history. This unlocks new trains, cargo and themes for purchase. Themes are upgrades for the train station that change the look of the station and unlock new buildings, trains and cars of the themes era. The player starts with a western theme and steam trains. Later he can unlock locations like Venice or Japan and upgrade his trains up to Maglev-style trains.

The game play boils down to finding the balance between transporting mail and people or gathering resources with the given trains. Moving people/mail earns the player gold. Resources are needed to construct buildings and to purchase new themes and upgrades. The player can also try to fulfill contracts for neighbors and earn bonus XP and rare rail cars.

All of this results in a fairly complex game that has much to offer. Unfortunately many players will be turned off by the very steep leveling-curve.

The though deep end

The tutorial guides the player up to level 12. Although the tutorial is not the best of its kind, those first 12 levels still breeze along in one play session. Unlocked trains, rail cars and buildings stay affordable with every level up. This accessibility changes after the tutorial.

Significant new things as themes or new engine types are beyond reach for the player. Especially for those who don’t wish to pay. Gathering the needed resources and reaching the needed level can take a lot of time. It is quite an effort to get to new themes, eras or trains. For example, the first theme is available at level 20. The average player will probably need a week to reach that level if he logs in 3-5 times a day. Not ensuring that he then has the needed resources to buy the theme when he unlocks it. Buying it with the premium currency is not an option for everyone. A deep pocket is needed, since the cost of themes and engines are significant. This is likely to scare of those who don’t want to invest deeply into TrainStation. Only persistent players will experience the deeper end of this game.

18Sep/12

“If you are big on Facebook, we make you big on mobile”

By Sebastian Sujka

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

17Sep/12

Game of the Week – Lost Jewels

By Huel Fuchsberger

Istanbul-based publisher and developer Peak Games mainly focuses on the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey but also release a game for the western market – Lost Jewels is one of those games. After Lost Bubble it is the second entry of the in-house developed “Lost” series. And with Lost Jewels Peak Games is off to a good start as past weeks #3 top gainer on the AppStats leaderboard.

Developer: Peak Games
Best in-app purchase
: 12 Moves (0.50€)
Genre:  Puzzle
Languages:  English
Platforms:  Facebook
Active users (Facebook): 560,00 MAU 260,000 DAU

How to Play

By matching stones of the same color in groups of at least 3 the player solves puzzles similar to other match-3 games. A difference in Lost Jewels is that not only lines bigger that 4 create special stones – matching stones in “L”,“T”,“U” and “S” shapes create bonus stones that have special abilities.

To proceed from level to level, the player has to solve 3 sublevels. The goal in the sublevels is to get treasure chests from the top of the field to the bottom. Additionally, collecting a certain amount of gems is required to pass. All of this has to be accomplished with a limited amount of moves. This makes up a challenging game. After the tutorial levels and some easy starters, the difficulty increases notably.

In the Magic Shop the player can purchase talismans. Talismans are bonus stones that appear randomly on the field and make it easier to solve a sublevel. Some are available for game coins and others for Facebook credits. Differently than in other games those talismans can be purchased while playing a sublevel. Those talismans are already very helpful, but even more valuable are the extra moves the player can buy.

The end-game saver

Due to the many conditions that have to be met to pass a level, it is very likely not to meet all of them in the given move limit. If the player runs out of moves he can purchase extra ones. In many cases those can help him to finishing an almost solved level. This end-game purchase can save a game the player has the felling is heading somewhere. It turns the purchase into a tactical tool that can be used precisely when needed. Therefore it is no wonder that moves are Lost Jewels’ top in-app purchase according to the AppCenter.

13Sep/12

DeNA Launches Mobile RPG Blood Brothers on Mobage

By Sebastian Sujka

DeNA announced today that it has launched Blood Brothers, an role-playing game set in a dark fantasy universe, for free on the Mobage social games platform for iOS devices worldwide. Blood Brothers pairs simple battle and combat mechanics with deep customization and character building. Blood Brothers has held a spot in the App Store’s Top 10 free iPhone apps chart, as well as in Google Play’s Top 10 Grossing apps chart since its launch on Android mobile devices in August.

“Blood Brothers gives players everything they could want in an RPG experience on-the-go – there’s deep customization, an entertaining story, hordes of gruesome monsters and a massive, diverse world that’s ready to be explored,” said Neil Young, Director of DeNA and CEO of DeNA’s U.S. subsidiary ngmoco.

In Blood Brothers, players take on the role of a hero who has been turned into a vampire, and seek out allies and bind them in a ritual of blood. Players can choose from knights, mages, ninjas, goblins, dwarves, and many others to build a powerful party and stand against a mighty empire in a tale of vengeance and rebirth. Blood Brothers is updated regularly, giving players plenty of new areas to explore, and new and fearsome creatures to fight and recruit.

12Sep/12

Redesigned Diamond Dash To Accompany Launch of new iPhone

By Gary Merrett

A newly optimized version of Diamond Dash for iOS is set to launch alongside the new iPhone. The update features a redesigned gameplay experience making full use of the larger 4-inch screen and includes newly integrated Facebook features built into iOS 6.

With over 25 million downloads of Diamond Dash on iOS to date, a figure that grows by 100 thousand a day, the Diamond Dash team paid particular attention to retaining the core gameplay experience that players know and love. Adjustments have been made to the main menus and gameplay screens, allowing players to see more of their friend’s highscores and fuelling competitions.

Every month users play close to one billion minutes of Diamond Dash on the iPhone and iPad. The hit mobile social game is also a top 10 grossing game in over 40 countries on the App Store.

It’s important for us that Diamond Dash players on the new iPhone can play a fully optimized version of the game from day one, and we’re ready,” says creator of Diamond Dash, Christopher Parschat. “We’ve redesigned the game to make full use of the added screen real estate and with Facebook integration so tightly woven into iOS, the latest Diamond Dash will be the best looking, most social version yet.”

Accompanying the launch of the new iPhone is iOS 6 – the latest software iteration for iOS devices. Facebook integration is at the core of iOS 6, giving users the ability to share their experiences to their timelines from anywhere within the device. Diamond Dash users will be able to share their gameplay experiences from directly within the app. Facebook Connect, the means through which users can log into Facebook through Diamond Dash, will work seamlessly with the new features, allowing users to login instantly.

5Sep/12

Game of the Week – AMC The Walking Dead Social Game

By Huel Fuchsberger

RockYou launched the social game AMC The Walking Dead Social Game. It’s a game adaptation of AMC‘s popular post-apocalyptic drama series The Walking Dead, which is based on a comic book series. After the successful adventure game series by Telltale Games the social game is the second game available for this brand. Another Action-Shooter is in development by Activison and shows how well the franchise fits for an interactive medium.

Developer: RockYou
Genre:  RPG, Strategy
Languages: English
Platforms: Facebook
Active users (Facebook):
820.000 MAU 90.000 DAU

How to Play
The game combines mechanics of different social games genres. As a survivor of the zombie apocalypse the player is in charge of a survivor camp and has to keep it running. To do so the player goes on missions and gathers resources. The customizable avatar gains experience and the player can spend skill points to upgrade him; also new weapons can be purchased to increase the avatars fighting strength.

On missions the player moves in turns and tries to complete his objectives without being killed by the undead called walkers. His movements drain energy which restores over time. Same as weapons and other resources energy can also be purchased with a premium currency. As it is common in social games the game is titled as open beta and several features are still added to the game from time to time. One such example is the survival mini game that is fun to play but, unfortunately, t0o short and doesn’t add anything to the game, no bonuses, resources or any kind of reward, making it boring after playing it more than once.

The energy wall
A flaw in the game is how the player experiences the energy scarcity. At the beginning the player is well introduced to the game, even gets a little spoiled. He has access to several energy refill tokens; with those the player gets a first game session of 20 to 30 minutes in which it is possible to achieve a great amount of missions and level ups. But when he runs out of those tokens the real scarcity of energy and the limited possibilities without those tokens are revealed. To get the same performance as in the first session the player has to play the game over a whole day relogging several times. The result is that the following sessions feel less satisfying then the first. This would explain the game’s low stickiness (DAU/MAU ratio) of only 11% (According to AppStats).

4Sep/12

Users Prefer Playing Mobile Games at Home

By Thorsten Bleich

The rapidly growing popularity of smartphones and tablets has begun to change the video game industry. A recent survey has shown that a growing number of consumers prefer playing games at home on their mobile devices over the traditional console variety. The Paragon Report examines investing opportunities in the Video Game Industry and provides equity research on Electronic Arts and Zynga.

A survey conducted by PopCap Games shows that approximately 50 percent of UK and US mobile gamers prefer playing games at home on their mobile devices. The number of mobile gamers in the U.K. and the U.S. is projected to be 125 million.

“We already know that people play mobile games ‘on the go,’ but now we are seeing mobile gamers largely favor their mobile devices for home use,” said Dennis Ryan, VP of Worldwide Publishing at PopCap. “If you add the fact we are seeing a deluge of new gamers coming in through mobile, we believe mobile gaming is invading the last bastion of videogame consoles and personal computers: the home.

Bloomberg has previously reported that Electronic Arts and Microsoft are in negotiations to bring mobile games to the upcoming Windows 8 platform. “We’re working very closely with Microsoft to understand what their views on gaming navigation are,” Chief Operating Officer Peter Moore said in a recent phone interview. “Anything that allows more platforms to be adopted quickly that have a gaming element is good for Electronic Arts.”

AllThingsD recently reported that Zynga has hired Maytal Ginzburg as their new chief operation officer in charge of new markets. Ginzburg is expected to lead the company’s online gambling ambitions. CEO Mark Pincus in the company’s last earnings call stated that Zynga’s first real-money games are in development and are expected to launch in the first half of 2013.

The Paragon Report has not been compensated by any of the above-mentioned publicly traded companies. Paragon Report is compensated by other third party organizations for advertising services. We act as an independent research portal and are aware that all investment entails inherent risks. You can view the full disclaimer here.