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


Kobojo Unleashes Mutants: Genetic Gladiators

By Matteo Carli

Beware! Battling custom mutant warriors are here! Kobojo, the French developer creating engaging, multi-platform games with an artistic flair for mid-core players, has officially launched its latest game, Mutants: Genetic Gladiators. The free-to-play, multi-player game is now available on Facebook.

Mutants: Genetic Gladiators is a mid-core role-playing game in which users are provided several species (e.g., zombie, robot and barbarian) they can combine to create more powerful mutant fighters. These combatants have various powers and abilities depending on their combinations. Players from around the world pit their warriors head-to-head in famous fighting arenas located around the globe, all while collecting, breeding and producing their unique mutant species to create the ultimate gladiator.

“Everyone at Kobojo is excited to finally bring Mutants: Genetic Gladiators to the masses through our partners at Facebook. As a mid-core game, we think players from novice to hard-core will enjoy combining species to collect unique and powerful warriors,” said Mario Rizzo, CEO, Kobojo. “We look forward to bringing Mutants to Android and iOS on both mobile and tablet later this year.”

Kobojo already has more than 50M registered users playing games such as Atlantis Fantasy, Goobox, Pyramid Valley and Questionary. The company is passionate about creating accessible, artistic and engaging multi-platform experiences for the gaming audience. Kobojo also has another title in development, which will be announced later this year.


appnext Launches Mobile Monetization and Discovery Network

By Mo Moubarak

In online advertising, native ads are gaining traction because of their unobtrusive nature and the contextual relevancy between the ad and the content.

appnext is bringing the same functionality to mobile games with the launch of the company’s mobile game monetization and discovery network. appnext now enables mobile game developers to gain a revenue stream by showing offers to play other games within their gaming environment. At the same time those developers can market their games to users of other games within appnext’s network.

The appnext mobile game monetization and discovery network provides game developers with an innovative interstitial that can be triggered by an in-game event or through the use of a branded “More Games” tab. The ability to scroll across to view additional games through appnext’s interstitials generates an up to 25% increase in engagement rates, while the inclusion of game descriptions for the complementary games offered results in higher quality clicks and, therefore, better conversion rates.

Game developers can run campaigns with these ad units across a broad range of appnext mobile game publishers to acquire new players as well as to integrate ads from other games via the company’s SDK.

The appnext mobile game discovery network delivers new players and ad revenue based on the company’s patent-pending ad serving technology, which enables dynamic, Amazon-like targeting of games to improve game discovery and ad monetization. Furthermore, the company’s ad serving methodology optimizes game discovery by reaching prospective players during natural game playing breaks when they’re open to seeing offers for new games.

“Thanks to appnext’s innovative ad unit, we’re generating more revenue than we previously did with other ad networks,” said Deniz Piri, CEO, Ahoy Games. “Beyond that, it doesn’t interrupt the user experience and allows us to offer our players more relevant game offers during breaks in the game.”

Only appnext provides support for Unity, Corona, Marmalade, Adobe Air, PhoneGap and HTML 5 through its SDK and plug-ins for games running on Android and soon Windows Phone.  In addition, appnext allows developers that operate on mobile and on the Facebook platform to cross-platform and use money earned in one platform to generate installs on the other platform.

“Regardless of which platform they choose, the appnext mobile monetization network enables any mobile game developer to monetize their game’s existing traffic in order to generate new daily traffic for free,” said Elad Natanson, Founder, appnext.


Plumbee’s Facebook Casino Game Mirrorball Slots Goes Mobile

By Camilla Noon

Plumbee, the London-based social casino games company, has expanded its popular Facebook game Mirrorball Slots onto iOS, as the startup makes its first move into the mobile space.

Following a successful year as an online Facebook game, the app is now available for download on Apple’s App Store allowing users to play Mirrorball Slots on their mobile devices.

Mirrorball Slots has close to 300,000 daily active users on Facebook and over one million monthly active users. Being a social casino game, players are able to purchase and win virtual currency, but there are no real money cash-outs.

Raf Keustermans, co-founder and CEO of Plumbee commented:

“It’s been a tremendous year for Plumbee, with the company achieving eight-digit revenues within its first year since launch. The move onto mobile is the natural next step for the company. We are really excited about the new iOS version. Our Facebook game continues to be a huge hit and now with the addition of the mobile app, the sky really is the limit.”

Mirrorball Slots differentiated itself from its competitors on Facebook with high-quality game play, polished graphics and animations. The iOS version remains loyal to the original with three slots games available and more in the pipeline.

Plumbee’s team has a proven track record in combining social gaming and online casino, disrupting the $400B gambling market. The team believes that success will come from creating the best social casino games and offering the best service to Plumbee players.

Plumbee’s mission is to become the leader in social, free-to-play casino games across all platforms.

Plumbee recently announced its involvement in the International Social Gaming Coalition, an association designed to help educate people about the free-to-play space and provide a strong voice in the debate around social regulation. It joins other heavyweights in the industry, including Zynga, Gamesys and DoubleDown.

You can download the app here.


Mixed-Reality Game “Gbanga Famiglia” Gets Brand-New Augmented Reality Mode

By Camilla Noon

Mixed-reality Mafia Game now on Android

“Gbanga Famiglia”, the mobile mafia game with geo-based challenges is finally available on Android. After two years on iOS, the game has been completely revised, translated and optimized to the Android operating system, taking full advantage of the provided features. The Gbanga team is proud to introduce a novel form of mixed-reality gameplay on the Android platform.

You can download it for free in the Google Play store here.

Novel Gameplay as a GPS-driven Mafioso

Gbanga Famiglia is a sandbox style, geo-based game set in today’s world of crime. The player assums the role of a Mafioso with bold career plans.

Initially starting for the “friendly” Police fraction, the player has to visit real-world places in order to collect precious items and to take-over establishments such as bars, restaurants and banks.

Collecting items enable you to bribe your mighty Famiglia Don through gifts. Member os wealthy Famiglias are stronger and more successful in take-overs. Further, you can exchange rare items with your friends and allies.

Geo-based Side-Quests and Power-Ups

The core elements of the game are the so called side-quests, the geo-based missions which include returning virtual suitcases to real banks, collaborative raids and assembly of police cars from scattered car parts.

The rewards for completed side-quests range from precious items such as Green Diamons to Angry Bouncers that will help protect your possessed establishments from unfriendly take-overs.

Augmented reality and other Technical Innovations

The game is a full-featured real-time MMO game on the mobile phone. After years of specialization in the field of locative and mixed-reality games, Gbanga has finally ported the network technology to Android.

With the hardware performance of today’s Android devices, Gbanga was able to add the Augmented Reality mode where players can navigate through the real world and look through a magnifying glass to take over real-world establishments.


DeNA China Partners With MediaTek

By Camilla Noon

The China subsidiary of DeNA Co., Japan’s largest social-game website operator, announced a partnership with Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek Inc. to promote mobile social games.

Through the partnership, the first for DeNA China with an upstream supplier in the mobile phone industry, the company hopes to optimize its products based on the features of MediaTek’s mobile chips, DeNA China said in a statement posted on its website.

The company will also offer its flagship mobile social gaming platform, Mobage, as a pre-installed application in phones using MediaTek chips to expand its presence in the emerging mobile game market, the statement said.

DeNA’s Japanese-language Mobage service has nearly 50 million users in Japan, and its Chinese-language version has more than 20 million users in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, according to the company.

MediaTek’s mobile phone customers in China include Lenovo Group Ltd., Coolpad and Huawei Technologies Co.


App Store Gives Away Popular iOS Games and Apps

By Camilla Noon

Here’s a little treat on a Monday morning. A number of premium iOS apps and games have been discounted to nothing over at the App Store, including the charming and mildly addictive Tiny Wings (and Tiny Wings HD for iPad), Traktor DJ (normally $20), Superbrothers: Sword and Sorcery EP, as well as Infinity Blade II (usually $7). There’s no official promotion to explain or list all the discounts, so we’re left to guess that this could be a prelude to July 10th, when Apple will mark the fifth anniversary of the App Store. Cupertino has already started sending out promotional material to mark the occasion, listing the usual big statistics to show how far the App Store has come since 2008, so these freebies could well be a part of that. We’ve linked up a few of them after the break, but the list isn’t exhaustive so please add more in the Comments section if you spot any others that merit the storage space. Happy hunting!

Traktor DJ for iPad and for iPhone – “The world’s #1 pro DJ software brings high-impact DJing to iPad”

Infinity Blade II - “Can you unlock all the mysteries and successfully wield the power of the Infinity Blade in this timeless swordplay adventure?”

Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP – “an exploratory action adventure with an emphasis on audiovisual style”

Tiny Wings and Tiny Wings HD (for iPad) – “You have always dream of flying — but your wings are tiny.”

Badland – “Award-winning atmospheric action adventure platformer”

Where’s My Water – “Each level is a challenging physics-based puzzle with amazing life-life mechanics.”

via: Engadget


Guest Post: NoSQL for Mobile Social Gaming: Three Key Factors Your Database Should Have

By Camilla Noon

Author: Matt Asay

Matt Asay is Vice President of Corporate Strategy at 10gen, the company behind MongoDB NoSQL database.  With more than a decade spent in open source, Matt is a recognized open source advocate and board member emeritus of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

One of the most important steps for building mobile social games is choosing the right type of database.  No matter how simple or complex your game is, it’s essential that you think about the infrastructure requirements that will allow your company to grow as your game evolves to support demand, beat competition and become a viral success.

When most data stored by online games is unstructured, location-based and polymorphic, NoSQL databases such as MongoDB provide a general purpose store that can handle diverse data with quick read/write access and cost effective management.

The key factors that a social gaming ready database should have are:

  • Reliability
  • Scalability
  • Flexibility

Due to the viral nature of social games, the number of active users can fluctuate tremendously within a matter of hours. The last thing you want as a developer is for users’ games to crash unexpectedly or run slowly because there is a server overload. In order to accommodate the needs of social apps, NoSQL is becoming the preferred database model for developers.


Because social games are played by multiple players in remote areas, responsiveness and reliability is extremely important. Certain games like Swing Shot and multiplayer fighting games have players performing actions concurrently. If the actions are not happening quick enough, the user experience in severely diminished.

NoSQL databases help in this regard because they are document based. Whenever data is needed, it’s kept in single documents on a disk which enables the databases to read and write more quickly. Games that lag and take seconds to complete actions do not tend to last long. Users are very quick to exit a game out of pure frustration if things don’t run smoothly.


The goal of every developer is to grow their daily user count as high as possible to increase the amount of in game purchases or paid subscriptions they’re able to get. Growth for social games generally isn’t a slow gradual process. Users jump aboard quickly. Built in social sharing features make it easier than ever for users to tell their friends about the games they’re currently playing and invite them to join in.

Once a game goes viral and climbs up the rankings in the App store or Google Play Store, it can easily gain a million new users each day. Developers have to prepare for this growth before it happens instead of waiting until after the game explodes. This is what happened with The Simpsons: Tapped Out from Electronics Arts (EA). Upon its release, the game acquired a massive number of users which eventually caused EA to pull it from the app store because the game simply had more user activity than their database could handle.

Good NoSQL databases have the ability to scale without limit if needed. Additionally, when the app starts to grow and needs to add features, NoSQL doesn’t require the developer to make changes to the actual application or schema.


Since social gaming is still a fairly new phenomenon and developers are still testing the waters, so to speak, flexibility is a necessity. You have to be able to make changes on the fly in a lot of cases to make improvements to the game and increase user satisfaction. The document database model used in NoSQL offers the flexibility that social gaming requires; document databases often don’t require set schemas which gives the developer a lot more freedom to make changes without having to completely alter the database. Adding new data types is as simple as adding the new data to the correct document.

What we know about social mobile applications is growing each day. As more games get released and developers push the boundaries for what the games are capable of, the entire industry will experience tremendous growth over the next few years. Developers need to make sure their database model isn’t holding them back.


Tencent Partners with EA for Exclusive Version of Plants vs. Zombies 2 in China

By Camilla Noon

If it’s a popular mobile phone game, Tencent wants to be the company selling it in China. And after a series of high-profile partnerships over the last few months (including Fruit Ninja and Temple Run 2), Tencent announced yesterday that it has landed an even bigger fish: Plants vs. Zombies 2. Tencent Games VP Peng Jiaxin announced yesterday that the company has signed an agreement with EA and Popcap Games that will see an exclusive version of the game brought to Tencent’s mobile platforms.

Probably needless to say, there will be other versions of PvZ 2 available in China — the first game, after all, was available on basically any digital device with a screen — but the exclusive version of the game could be a big draw for Tencent depending on what kind of special content it contains. Tencent was also behind the China-focused Plants vs. Zombies: Great Wall Edition, so the company knows how to lure domestic gamers to the apocalypse-and-vegetables-themed game.

And of course, Tencent has so many mobile platforms that if the game ends up on all of them, it will have a pretty impressive reach. In addition to mobile QQ, QQ Zone, and its game platform apps, Tencent also has the super-popular WeChat, which we already know it plans to add a gaming platform on top of. In fact, the company is reportedly looking to integrate that with QQ’s gaming platform. We don’t know yet when that integrated platform is coming, but launching it at the same time as a whole new Plants vs. Zombies game would certainly be a way to get people excited about it!

(via: TechinAsia)


GREE-Published Knights and Dragons Breaks $1m Monthly Revenue

By Camilla Noon

Aims to smash $5m by the end of the year.

The GREE-published Knights and Dragons game developed by IUGO Mobile Entertainment has passed $1 million in monthly revenue.

It was launched as part of the GREE Partners Fund and was the first title to debut under the scheme, which focuses on the development of freemium mobile games.

IUGO aims to double the figure in the next couple of months and has long-term goals of passing $5m in monthly revenue by the end of the year.

Working with social games network GREE offered access to analytics that enabled the teams to witness a 75 per cent spike in average revenue per daily active user.

Jim Ying, VP of publishing and partnerships at GREE International, said: “Knights is our first collaboration with IUGO and we have big plans for the game going forward including building new multiplayer features and on-going in-game events for players. We’re just getting started.”

Hong-Yee Wong, CEO of IUGO Mobile Entertainment, added: “The publisher/developer relationship is really built on the ability to learn from and share expertise and resources. Knights & Dragons is a great example of what that kind of partnership can bring to the market and to the players.”


metricsmonk Releases iOS Analytics and User Distribution

By Gary Merrett

The product’s new innovative “User Distribution” function increases granularity

Today metricsmonk releases the complete iOS analytics feature to complement their current data suite. Joining the already well-established Facebook game and app analytics, the iOS feature contains refined tools to scan how an application or game is performing within different markets.

Up until now, metricsmonk has provided an analytics suite spanning Facebook applications and games. The addition of the iOS feature to this suite ensures customers have access to a broader range of analytics across both the Facebook and Mobile platforms. User distribution is the key tool in this analytics offering. It provides a huge amount of granularity and lets customers scan how users of their app or game are also acting within the iOS market. This helps customers identify who they are competing against for users, thus helping them to adjust user acquisition costs and communication accordingly.

User Distribution Screenshot

The iOS analytics features include:

  • User distribution: the ability to see the distribution of users of a specific application or game over other applications or games
  • Rankings: to show overview of app/game performance within different appstores and categories
  • Item detail: for each app/game, customers can view its ranking across all appstores, the number of reviews it has and the average rating given by its users

“We’re really excited to be introducing iOS to metricsmonk,” CEO Sebastian Sujka enthuses, “I am confident that our clients will find the update a valuable addition to the service. The user distribution is a revolutionary new feature that we’ve been working on for a while and clients are reacting extremely positively to this update. There’s nothing else like this on the market.”