Kabam operates at the convergence of social games and so-called hardcore games with elaborate strategy multiplayer titles like Dragons of Atlantis or Kingdoms of Camelot. We were curious to learn more about Kabam’s philosophy, especially in the wake of its latest move to publish the first The Godfather social game exclusively on Google+, and caught up with their COO Chris Carvalho to explore the topic.
Social Games Observer: The Godfather: Five Families (TGFF) was released on Google+ exclusively – why did you take this step?
Chris Carvalho: To paraphrase The Godfather, “It was strictly business.”
TGFF had performed well in beta and we were ready to take it to large audiences. As we were evaluating our options, Google+ games came to us and put together the most compelling marketing and merchandising package to support the expansion of The Godfather: Five Families onto their platform.
Kabam's Chief Operating Officer Chris Carvalho
SGO: Are you happy with the game’s performance so far?
Chris: We are very happy with the performance of The Godfather: Five Families to date. In fact, the game experienced the best performance in beta of any game Kabam has released to date. We continue to see growth in players and revenue, and expect that to continue.
Is it already possible to tell if players on Google+ show different behaviors or enjoy other things in a game than players on other platforms, especially Facebook?
Chris: There are some differences with G+ and other platforms, but so far the internal metrics are pretty similar. That’s because it’s the game itself that has the most impact on players, as each title has its own game and design mechanics which engender different player behaviors.
SGO: Google+ has a reputation for having a very male-heavy audience – how does that reflect on your user base?
Chris: The G+ user base to date is definitely complementary of our users as the demographic profile of Kabam game players is 70% male, mostly under 40. This is a direct result of our overall strategy.
Google+ made them a marketing offer they couldn't refuse.
Kabam was the first social gaming company to take a different strategy, consciously targeting and developing games for the core gamer audience, not ‘casual’ gamers. We develop hardcore social games that combine the deep, immersive gameplay found in MMO games, strategy and RPG style games, with the connectivity and interaction benefits of social platforms. Consequently, our player profile is much more in line with what one historically sees in the gaming category.
SGO: From a technical perspective, which are the main differences when publishing on Google+ compared to Facebook?
Chris: Kabam created a solution for multi-platform publishing specifically to address this challenge, a new technology framework called Pyramid™. The Pyramid layer allows us to leverage a single code base engine, which in turn enables Kabam to rapidly integrate a game as well as deliver simultaneous game updates across multiple platforms. As a publisher, this means we can easily and efficiently integrate, and update games across multiple platforms. No more branched code… games are always kept up to date, no matter the platform.
Kabam built a new publishing framework to run games simultaneously across different platforms.
We deployed this solution not only for The Godfather: Five Families, but for other Kabam games that are running on multiple platforms (Dragons of Atlantis and Edgeworld are also on both Facebook and Google+ games). It has enabled us to solve for the problem of multi-platform development, which in turn will enable us to achieve the broadest possible global reach for Kabam games and reduces our dependency on any one platform.
SGO: What happens when the exclusive period of 45 days is over – are you rolling out The Godfather: Five Families to Facebook and/or other platforms as well?
Chris: Yes, we plan to expand distribution of The Godfather: Five Families. Our goal is to make Kabam games available to as many gamers globally as possible. Whether it is on Facebook or not is an open question. No platform captures all gamers – e.g., Facebook only has about 30% penetration in Europe. As noted above, this is one of the reasons we developed Pyramid – it enables us to be a multi-platform game company.
SGO: Are you planning to release more titles exclusively on Google+?
Chris: As we develop and release more titles, we’ll follow the same process we did with TGFF. We’ll evaluate the game’s performance and talk to third party platforms about marketing and promotion to drive users to our games and make our distribution decisions based on what is the best path for each game.
SGO: What other platforms will be in your focus this year for launching new games?
Chris: We will have multiple games across European networks – VZNet, Hyves, Tuenti, etc. – and believe that managing the distribution channels is going to be one of the key factors for success in this evolving games market, so Kabam is constantly looking to expand our game distribution to reach more gamers and provide unique value to our players.
While our focus will continue to be on developing and releasing free-to-play, hardcore social games that are delivered digitally, the ecosystem is rapidly evolving and new opportunities are appearing on a regular basis.
For example, we recently announced a deal with Pokki that enables players to access a Kabam game directly from their computer desktop via an app – it operates much like mobile apps. We feel this has the potential to open up a major new chapter in distribution for core social games.