Last week we attended the Social Gaming Summit at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium in London. Here is what we learnt:
1. Facebook has become ultra-competitive as a games platform. According to Dan Laughlin, Biz Dev director at 6waves, to get to 1m MAUs (monthly active users) on Facebook you will need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. Sure you can get some virality, but it’s not the same as it was 2 or 3 years ago. K-factors of less than 0.1 indicate the low amount of viral growth in games on Facebook today.
2. Retention and Monetisation are the keys to browser and mobile game success. Forget large-scale player acquisition until you have nailed these two. Anyone with a budget can acquire gamers, and anyone using a platform like Facebook will be using the same viral channels as everyone else. So, what differentiates a successful game from the hundreds and thousands of great games that just don’t seem to make it online? The answer is retention and monetisation. Retention is about building a compelling game that users will want to come back to. Monetisation is about designing your game with the ability to charge users in mind. Nail those two things and you are one step away from cocktails on your yacht.
3. 0-1-100, or in other words, make your game free to play, make it easy to spend a dollar and allow people to spend $100 a month if they wish. According to Nicolas Lovell, this is one of the keys to success. When the marginal cost of delivering the game to a user is as close to zero as it is for browser games, make it free for everyone. But give people a good reason to want to spend a small amount of money. And, finally, some people will love your game: if they want to spend $100 a month on your game, give them the opportunity to do so.
4. Time is the main asset in social games, not currency. Gamers are cashing into games in order to speed things up and progress through the game more rapidly. If you want to drive monetisation in your game, create timed events so gamers make an appointment to return to the game, driving retention. Develop open loops, forcing things to be unfinished. Ensure players have multiple tasks underway at once. Harvesting, missions, quests, etc bring players back to the game over and over again.
5. Mobile Apps is a great place to be: but only if you are in the top 50 apps. According to estimates, 71% of all revenues come from the top 50 apps. Worse news is that there has been very minimal turnover in the top 100 apps and top 100 publishers in the past year. So if you are going to go down the mobile route, get a good publisher and get into the top 50!
6. This is only the beginning. Today’s successful social games companies may have shown the way, but there is much much more to come and one of the biggest opportunities is to bring higher quality, more compelling game experiences to the browser.
From a Turbulenz point of view, everything we heard meshes very well with our vision for the future of games. We have built an HTML5 game engine and social platform that enables developers to bring higher quality game experiences to the web. If retention is the main differentiator of a successful game, and if this is driven by the quality of the game, Turbulenz is very well positioned to help developers succeed online. Furthermore, the Turbulenz platform incorporates new social sharing features that do not exist on other games platforms. Being able to expose your game to viral growth mechanics that do not exist elsewhere online allow your game to grow faster and more cheaply than any other game.
On a final note, the Head of European Gaming Partnerships for Facebook, Julien Codorniou, declared that if he was starting a company today it would be completely focused on HTML5 games. Well, Turbulenz is an HTML5 game engine and social platform. If you are a game developer and thinking along the same lines as Julien then sign up for Turbulenz and join the revolution.