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


Infographic: Flash or HTML5 Games?

By Thorsten Bleich

Flash (!) game developer One More Level has created a nice infographic on the endless battle between Flash and HTML5. Enjoy!

HTML5 vs Flash Games
Created by: One More Level


HTML5 in Russia: Nival Invests in Bytex

By Gary Merrett

Nival, developer and publisher of cross-platform, social strategy games, announced today it has invested in Bytex, a Russian online game development studio with extensive HTML5 experience. The investment will be used to launch Berserk: The Cataclysm, a collectible card game that is now available for players via an open beta test on Facebook.

“We believe in the collectible card game market, unlike some big publishers, and expect fans of the genre to see why we’re so excited about Berserk: The Cataclysm,” said Dmitri Karasev, founder and CEO of Bytex. “ Berserk is an IP that’s proven very popular in Europe and we expect existing fans and newcomers will enjoy the versatility HTML5 offers them when experiencing the game.”

Bytex, located in Saransk, Russia, was founded in 2004 and has focused most of its development time on collectible card games. HTML5 allows for games to be easily played through a web browser on different platforms, including Windows, Mac OS, iOS and Android, so games are immediately available on computers, smartphones and tablets.

Bytex will draw on the investment and expertise of the Nival team to launch Berserk: The Cataclysm, a strategic collectible card game that includes 600 unique collectible cards illustrated by prominent international artists and six types of battles, including PvP (Player-versus-Player) and PvE (Player-versus-Environment) and asynchronous PvP, allowing players to battle even when one is away from the game.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Nival is headquartered in Moscow with offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia; Minsk, Belarus; Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles; Nival currently has more than 250 employees and four development studios. Bytex was founded in 2004, currently has more than 20 developers, and its office is located in Saransk, Russia. Bytex games are available in Russian, English, German and Italian.


So Does HTML5 Suck?

By Sebastian Sujka

HTML5 was the hottest topic of 2011. After the technology was simply presented to us as the torch to lead us into a brighter future, hardly anybody dared to criticize it. The gaming industry was expecting a revolution as Facebook announced HTML5 to be one out of two most important topics for 2011. Now after Facebook presented its HTML5 mobile app framework last month critical voices start to emerge.

Todd Hooper, CEO of Zipline Games, lashed out at HTML5 in a recent interview: “HTML5 guys have a lot of conferences, but let’s see some games.” According to Hooper, different companies have pushed HTML5 because it suits their agendas, but game developers are mostly not HTML5 programmers. “In fact,” he added, “most game programmers don’t want to use JavaScript.”

EA’s creative director Richard Hilleman believes that HTML5 offers a great opportunity to provide instant access to games, but the platform needs to overcome some serious issues:  “High performance Javascript is obtuse at best,” Hilleman said in his keynote at New Game Conference in San Francisco. Also, it’s very hard to predict how an app will run on different hardware specifications.

Still not all browsers support HTML5 and, unlike Flash games, the appearance is inconsistent when using different browsers. For developers it becomes a challenge, whether to produce for the widest audience or support only one browser for best quality. This reality is quite the opposite of the vision of HTML5 as the ultimate cross-device solution. Hilleman: “Bad experience on the delivery will kill the platform as fast as anything. Maybe even faster.”

EA is also facing sound problems with HTML5:  “We still tend to falter with sound on HTML5, and we have to resolve that… I have some hopes the next iterations of the browser will address that but it’s another big problem,” said Hilleman. He thinks that HTML5 needs  a killer app that delivers a user experience that would compel players to show a game to their friends.

For Todd Hooper, HTML is lacking the magic: “When I saw the new Facebook app on iPad and saw the HTML games, they would have been state-of-the-art three or four years ago, but they aren’t state-of-the-art now.”

Is HTML5 the ‘new technology to build the next generation apps on the web’, like Facebook wants us to believe? So far, the platform has not delivered on the great expectations.


New HTML5 Mobile Social Game on MocoSpace: Planet Cazmo

By Gary Merrett

This week MocoSpace is announcing that popular mobile social gaming developer Planet Cazmo is making its HTML5 gaming debut on the MocoSpace Games Platform this December with Planet Cazmo: Monster Battles. Planet Cazmo, created by veterans of LucasArts and Pileated Pictures, has developed social and mobile games and experiences for music and entertainment artists. The company is now developing new cross-platform, free-to-play titles, both original and branded.

22 Million Users, Just over 20 Games
Planet Cazmo: Monster Battles features classic monster battling, capturing and collecting, with  offbeat creatures and powers. The game will be distributed to MocoSpace’s 22 million users. MocoSpace has already launched more than 20 mobile games on its HTML5 mobile gaming platform. Other MocoSpace titles include Street Wars, Stage Hero, and Cute or Boot. MocoSpace gamers spend more than 1 million hours a day playing these and other games on the MocoSpace Game Platform.

Mobile Gaming Industry to Hit $2 Billion in Revenue
The mobile gaming industry is expected to bring in $2 billion in revenue this year, according to analyst projections. Industry Gamers reports that the global game industry will generate $60 billion in revenue for 2011, and is growing at 10% annually according to a new research report by RW Baird. This growth means that the overall industry revenue should hit $80 billion by 2014. Research from the Electronics Software Association (ESA) supports the popularity of mobile gaming, and found that 55 percent of gamers play games on their phones or handheld device.


Spil Games on Mobile Gaming – HTML5 as Key Technology

By Sebastian Sujka

[Editor's note:  HTML5 has been a hot topic for the past year, especially in the last weeks. While the technological infrastructure seems to be available, game developers are still slow or hesitant to adapt to this new way. Dutch game publisher Spil Games was one of the first companies to adapt to the new technology and advertising it as a part of their company strategy. In his guest post Spil Games CEO Peter Driessen shares the companies experience and insights on new mobile gaming.]

Peter Driessen, CEO, Spil Games

Spil Games’ HTML5-powered mobile-gaming sites have just celebrated their first birthday. Our philosophy has always embraced free access to games, whether from behind a desktop computer at work or on the run with a mobile phone. This is why we saw something special in browser-based mobile gaming, recognizing revolutionary potential in HTML5 – a set of technologies poised to challenge the dominance of native apps in the gaming industry by outfitting browser-based games for any device. The HTML5 technology is key in Spil Games’ mission.

Spil Games’ mobile sites now support 74 games playable across a range of devices. The cross-platform nature of HTML5 means that the same game can be accessed by iPhone, Android, or any smartphone with an up-to-date browser. Despite this being one of the largest platforms for mobile gaming, we believe it is only the beginning.

The past year has been about building the foundation. Our ultimate goal is cloud gaming, which would allow players to switch seamlessly between devices. For that to become reality, a strong cross-platform foundation is needed first – and we are working on just that.

Our mobile platforms currently feature a careful selection of games for smartphones and other portable devices, with players on mobile devices automatically rerouted to the HTML5 version of their favorite site. The recent addition of social features, such as friends and an activity feed, serve to enhance the user experience.

Browser updates crucial
We are experimenting with our mobile sites to find out what works and what does not. HTML5 use has definitely been picking up, with browsers rapidly adopting HTML5 specifications—but we’re waiting for consumers to update their browsers. HTML5 isn’t ideal for out-of-date browsers, which a sizeable chunk of the population still uses on its computers and mobile devices. So in order to ensure players on any device have access to games wherever they are – regardless even of internet connection – we still make content for native apps as well.

Hybrid strategy for transition
We currently have a hybrid mobile strategy, developing both HTML5 content and native apps. But browser vendors are opening up to HTML5, so while it will take browser-based games time to catch up to the quality level of Flash, the future looks bright.

Exciting trends are emerging. We have had had time to study the behaviors of our mobile players, and start a dialogue with them. A game jam co-hosted with Google and a subsequent HTML5 game-development contest got the creative juices flowing, teaching Spil about HTML5 best practices.

Mobile users come back to play more often than desktop users
The most successful mobile games are simple and easy to play while out and about. Puzzle games, dress-up games, and quizzes are popular favorites. iPad use – particularly by young girls – has shot up. Interestingly, we have discovered that mobile users come back to play more often than desktop users.  So we are busy leveraging our audience of 130 million by kicking off cross promotion on its sites. Banner ads and site takeovers let players know some of their favorite games are available on their cell phones, too.

Ten per cent of Spil Games’ user base will go mobile within the next year
Now that a foundation is in place, our plan is to put more emphasis on marketing the mobile sites and to invest seriously in the testing and in-house development of HTML5 games. We’ve built an infrastructure we’re proud of, and now we want to make it more visible and acquire users. I predict that some 10 per cent of Spil Games’ user base will go mobile within the next year – that’s 13 million players. We also expect mobile-game quality to get better and better, especially if that content is cross-platform.

We stand by the idea that people like to play games anytime, anywhere, on any platform –and our strategy reflects that.  Transitioning as a company toward a cross-platform gaming experience, all players will need is a browser… and all we will need is one platform to unite them all.


Moblyng Launch Staking Company on HTML5

By Gary Merrett

Moblyng Games, developer of HTML5 mobile social gaming applications, has released Social Poker Live and Word Racer Live on Facebook’s mobile apps and mobile site. Moblyng Games has developed Social Poker Live and Word Racer Live in HTML5 specifically for Facebook’s mobile offerings.

“We believe HTML5 will soon triumph over native mobile development technologies and similarly, that Facebook’s mobile apps and mobile site will dominate the mobile social gaming and application market,” said Stewart Putney, founder and CEO of Moblyng Games. “We believe this so firmly that we are staking our company on it –developing our HTML5 social games specifically for Facebook from this point forward.”

Built in pure HTML5, Social Poker Live and Word Racer Live are available to any smartphone user via Facebook’s mobile apps and mobile site, and via the mobile web. Both are among the first titles on the market to deliver a live gaming without requiring the user to download a native application. Players can play as guests or log in via their Facebook account.

“Our games showcase what HTML5 can actually do and how powerful it is in terms of game-play capabilities, audience reach, distribution opportunities, and scalability,” continued Putney. “Social Poker Live and Word Racer Live are just two examples of how HTML5 games are inherently social and high-performing, which is why we are betting on HTML5 to replace native as the new development standard for mobile social apps.”

Social Poker Live offers social, multiplayer Texas Holdem’ experience complete with animation, sound, multiple tables, gifts and live chat. Word Racer Live provides an “blitz” style word building challenge that lets players compete with Facebook friends in real-time.


Magic Land Island – wooga Goes HTML5

By Sebastian Sujka

Berlin-based social game developer wooga today launches its first mobile game Magic Land Island on Facebook’s new mobile apps and mobile site ( Magic Land Island is an HTML5 game, which is now accessible on all smartphones and tablets, allowing users to play a Magic Land version on any device they wish. Magic Land Island’s cross-device compatibility allows both iOS and Android device users to play the game and gives Magic Land Island an expanded reach.

The company’s move towards HTML5 was already announced by CEO Jens Begemann at the Launch of Magic Lands in August and now marks wooga’s first steps toward the rapidly spreading technology. More and more developers launch their first projects in HTML5.

Magic Land Island is a mobile version of Magic Land, specifically designed for Facebook’s mobile site, which is integrated into Facebook’s iPhone and iPad app. Magic Land was launched mid-August on Facebook, where the mobile extention was already announced. The story of Magic Land combines medieval customs and legends in a mix of role-playing, city building and adventure features.

The game has gained almost 4 million monthly active users at the game’s peak since its launch. Currently Magic Land has about 3.4 Million monthly active users.  Now Magic Land Island launches as a stand-alone game and will be connected to Magic Land soon.

Magic Land Island is visibly connected in Magic Land  via a boat in the non HTML5 Version. The integration of the two games is expected to be announced in near future. Programmed in HTML5, Magic Land Island launches on Facebook’s newly updated mobile apps and mobile site, giving users the ability to play Facebook games and use Facebook apps on their smartphones and tablets.

“The rapid technological development and possibilities of HTML5 surprised us during the development process and we are really seeing a lot of potential for a new segment of mobile social games,”commented Philipp Moeser, wooga’s CTO, the launch today.

wooga Founder and CEO, Jens Begemann added: “We are exited about the possibilities, especially the new social distribution channels, which come along with Facebook’s new mobile apps and mobile site. wooga has always focused on the social experience – to build games, which are inherently social. This new mobile technology allows us to take this expertise to a whole new level: social mobile. 70% of our users are female and many between 35 and 45. They are also starting to look for mobile games which connect them to their friends wherever they are.”


MocoSpace Registers 20 Million Members and Launches Four HTML5 Games

By Thorsten Bleich

Mobile entertainment platform MocoSpace today announces to have surpassed 20 million members. The company is also launching four new games on the MocoSpace Games Platform: Cage Fighter from New Game Town, In the Club from Upgraded Studios and Goosy Avatar and Goosy Pets from CelanderUS. All four games involve a social aspect as players can connect with their friends, and also make new friends via the gaming experience. All games are free to play and can be accessed on any phone with access to the Internet – no app required. New Game Town (NGT) has worked with MocoSpace to create a game called Cage Fighter. In Cage Fighter, players may create a fighter, hire a trainer, and compete with friends. Cage Fighter is New Game Town’s second HTML5 game – the company has already launched Happy Farm on MocoSpace, and is currently working on its third title. Upgraded Studios’ In the Club invites players to build a nightclub from the ground up.  Upgraded Studios was established earlier this year with a goal of developing cross platform technology and games software

CelanderUS is creating the other two new games for MocoSpace; Goosy Avatar will launch first, followed by Goosy Pets. CelanderUS is based in Denmark and the United States, and was established in 1996. The company has been in the mobile and Internet business for ten years, spending the last five years focused primarily on distribution and development of mobile content, multiplayer platforms and mobile communities. “The game industry is still focused on apps, but we’ve proven over the past year that millions of Americans are already playing and buying virtual goods in HTML5 mobile social games. Thanks to new innovations of our platform, we’ve made HTML5 game graphics and play as good as the app and playable for anyone with a smartphone, regardless of whether they’re using iOS or Android,” states MocoSpace CTO and co-founder Jamie Hall.


Facebook News: Adaptions to HTML5, Real Life Likes and More

By Sebastian Sujka

Facebook Adapting to HTML 5
Facebook has posted a note concerning how the network might be implementing HTML 5 in the future. At the moment the fields of application range a new video player with high definition support, faster page viewing, changes to the chat function and different web storage methods.

QR Codes Can Make You “Like” Things In “The Real World”
The Facebook Like Feature is really popular all over the world and it is now spreading to the “real world”. Providing real objects a QR code it will soon be possible for people to like them in the real world, simply by scanning them with their mobile phone. The Like will then appear on Facebook for all your friends to see. This links the internet with the real world, and offers new means for companies to promote their products.

Facebook Connecting Likers By Releasing Admin Interface
To connect Likers and provide developers with means to contact anyone who had Liked their products on the web, Facebook now releases an administration interface. Communication and monitoring of the Likers will be easier. The interface is a Facebook page made visible to the owner of the website. Developers can now contact users directly in their news feed.

Facebook Like Buttons Begin Appearing In Online Banner Ads
Today Facebook and some of its advertisers are rolling out Like buttons in banner ads, as part of a test. When users click on the Like button within the ad your Like will be recorded on Facebook and in your friends news feed and on your wall. This enables Facebook social content to appear offline and in other contexts, something that hasn’t been possible before.

EchoSign Adds Facebook Authentication to E-Signatures
EchoSign now accepts Facebook log-ins as identity verification for its electronic signature technology. Facebook users can now sign documents and prove their identity electronically, simply by logging in to Facebook and in the end, eliminate the use for fax machines and couriers.

Facebook’s ‘Download Your Information’ Feature Experiences Memory Loss
Last month the Download Your Information Feature was launched on Facebook enabling users to download their complete record of information off the site. One problem however, the records will only include information from your Wall recorded after 2006, since that feature has been reconstructed several times since then. Facebook is currently evaluating on offering users more Wall information in the near future.