首先先从游戏之外谈起。本周有新闻报道，Color Labs，一家既没开始创收，也没在iPhone上推出应用的公司竟在Series A融资中，从红杉资本（Sequoia Capital）那获得了4100万美元的资金，这完全与游戏泡沫之说一拍即合。
I Have Changed My Mind, We Are In a Bubble
Earlier this year, I wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal arguing Why Social Gaming is no Bubble.
Two months on, I’ve changed my mind.
Let’s start by looking outside games. The news this week that Color Labs, a company that is not only pre-revenue but that hadn’t even launched its iPhone app, had raised $41 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital has tipped the consensus towards the emergence of a bubble.
Closer to my world of games, Angry Birds developer Rovio raised $42 million from Accel, Felicis and Atomico. That’s an eye-watering amount of money for a company that didn’t need the cash, that is built on a single franchise and that has a 2% hit rate. (Angry Birds was Rovio’s 52nd game, which is powerful testament to their persistence, but also a warning about how difficult it is to create a breakout game in the crowded mobile market.)
In social games, my friends in Silicon Valley tell me that the sector is red hot at the moment. We haven’t seen the eye-watering valuations for pre-revenue companies in social games yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
What makes this a bubble?
Ben Horowitz argues that we are not yet in a bubble. He points out that in the dot com boom, Netscape had a 90% share of the browser market with only 50 million users. Today Facebook alone has 500 million users and the total addressable market is nearer to 2 billion users.
The ability of financiers and entrepreneurs to project forward into a vast and growing market is a pre-requisite for a bubble in valuations. If growth rates and market take-up match projections, we have a boom; if they lag, or prove hard to satisfy than expected, we have a bubble.
Within social games, we are seeing an assumption that several trends will occur or continue. Investors expect the casual gamer, mainly 30-60 year olds and skewed towards women, to play more and spend more on social games. They assume that penetration of smartphones will continue rapidly, and that users will continue spending on freemium games. They assume that the core market will transition, at least partially, to playing games online, on social networks and on smartphones.
All of the assumptions are reasonable. The risk is that the pace of change does not match expectations. New, well-funded companies will fight for a smaller market than anticipated, driving up customer acquisition costs and leading to a landgrab for market share, not a focus on profitability. Investors will keep investing because the macro trends justify it, but intensifying competition mean few companies will achieve the high margins of the first movers. Success will be measured by whether you got out in time, not whether you made a sustainable, profitable business.
That’s a bubble.
What to do about it?
If we are in a bubble for social games, what should we do about it?
If you are an investor, look for companies whose success is predicated on building long-term relationships with paying customers, not hoping for a lucky break. Separately, look for companies who will benefit from rising customer acquisition costs, not suffer from them.
If you are an entrepreneur, get in there. Accept that customer acquisition costs are rising and focus on retaining your customers and offering them great value from your games. Focus on ensuring that your users can play your games for free, can easily spend £1 and can possibly spend £100. If you are going to have to buy users (and you will) make sure that they are profitable for you.
Now excuse me, I’m off to raise some money for my database of games-making freelancers.（Source：TechEurope）