Wooga的产品与Zynga一样都是免费体验游戏，该公司正尝试通过出售《Monster Island》和《Diamond Dash》等游戏虚拟道具创造收益。目前该公司尚无可观利润，去年收益尚不足千万欧元。该公司已通过伦敦的Balderton Capital Management、德国的Holtzbrink Ventures融资550万欧元（约合790万美元）。
但投资银行Digi-Capital Ltd.,总经理Tim Merel却认为，像Wooga这种依赖于Facebook的社交游戏公司最终会陷入麻烦，因为它们处于劣势，而Facebook却掌握了谈判的主动权，社交游戏开发商不但要向Facebook出让30%的收益，而且还得额外支付广告费用，以便在该平台推广自己的游戏。
ResearchGate等其他柏林新兴企业也有相同看法，该研究人员社交网站在去年9月已融得firms Accel Partners和Benchmark Capital等风险投资机构的资金。
Bringing Social Games to Europe
Wooga Seeks to Woo Players, but Some See Risk in Relying on Facebook.Article Stock Quotes Comments more in Media &
.Wooga GmbH is one of a handful of rising stars in the competitive world of online social games. It is also the only one not in Silicon Valley.
Since launching its first game, “Brain Buddies,” in July 2009, Berlin-based Wooga has become the fourth-largest games developer by monthly average users on social network Facebook Inc. It is trying to crack a market that is dominated by California-based companies, including Zynga Inc., Electronic Arts Inc. and Crowdstar Inc.
Nearly 19 million people were playing Wooga’s games on April 1, according to AppData, a tracking service. That’s more than double a year earlier, but well behind market leader Zynga, which had 267 million users on Facebook on the same date.
Like Zynga, Wooga’s games are free to play, and the company tries to generate revenue by selling virtual items in games such as “Monster Island” and “Diamond Dash.” Wooga is currently unprofitable and had revenue in single digit millions of euros last year. It has rased €5.5 million ($7.9 million) in funding from Britain’s Balderton Capital Management and Germany’s Holtzbrink Ventures.
Wooga’s fast rise stems from its focus on social gaming, an increasingly lucrative part of the gaming business, where gamers connect and interact with friends via easy-to-play online games.
Jens Begemann, Wooga’s 34-year-old founder and chief executive, also attributes his firm’s success to its international focus. Region-specific teams inside Wooga translate games into seven languages, including Italian, French, Portuguese and Turkish, and tailor virtual items for sale to each market. The result is a user base that is majority European.
.”Europe is definitely a little bit underserved. Many games are not translated, and they feel very American,” said Mr. Begemann, who got his start at Jamba, a Berlin mobile entertainment firm.
While social games aren’t new, Facebook’s growth has elevated their status in the gaming world. The company said roughly 3% of its audience shells out between 16 cents and $7.50 for items such as astronauts, tree houses and magic wands. Since June, the company says it has sold roughly 26 million magic wands.
Sales of virtual goods globally in social games more than doubled to $2.99 billion last year from $1.4 billion in 2009, brokerage firm ThinkEquity estimates. Market leader Zynga, which makes the games “FarmVille” and “Cityville,” is valued at close to $10 billion, and has already raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture capital.
Companies such as Wooga that are today dependent on Facebook will be troubled in the long run, because it puts Facebook in a strong negotiating position, said Tim Merel, managing director of Digi-Capital Ltd., an investment bank. Mr. Merel said that, in general, social-gaming companies give 30% of their sales to Facebook, and pay extra to promote their games on the site.
“They have a huge challenge, and that challenge is Facebook,” he said.
Mr. Begemann said for now Wooga is exclusively on Facebook, but the company plans to launch games on mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad later this year. Instead of spending heavily on Facebook to promote its games, Wooga cross-promotes and offers incentives for its games within each other.
The CEO travels to Silicon Valley every ten weeks to compensate for Wooga’s geographic distance from Facebook. Basing the company in Berlin means Wooga doesn’t compete with giants such as Google Inc. and Apple for software developers. While engineers are slightly cheaper to hire in Berlin versus Silicon Valley, Mr. Begemann said the real challenge isn’t the money, but competing with the cachet of the tech giants for top talent.
The same sentiments have been echoed by other Berlin start-ups, such as ResearchGate, a social network for researchers, which got funding from venture-capital firms Accel Partners and Benchmark Capital in September.
Mr. Begemann has set an aggressive goal to be the second-largest games developer on Facebook by the end of the year, by launching a game every three months and hiring at least one new employee every week.
That’s because the business model for social-gaming companies relies heavily on scale, and the industry is consolidating fast. The second place spot on Facebook is currently held by videogame giant Electronic Arts, which acquired London-based social games developer Playfish in 2009 in a deal valued at $400 million. Last year, Walt Disney Co. acquired another rival, Playdom, for at least $563 million.
“I am convinced by the end of this year, if you are not among the top three,” Mr. Begemann warned, “you have a big problem.”（source：wsj）