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每日观察:关注King.com及Kixeye发展计划(4.20)

发布时间:2012-04-20 14:09:57 Tags:,,,

1)据路透社报道,英国游戏开发商King.com最近以1040万DAU成为日活跃用度居于第二位的Facebook游戏开发商,而游戏发行商EA则以900多万DAU落后于德国社交游戏公司Wooga,居于第四名。

king-com-facebook(from games)

king-com-facebook(from games)

King.com联合创始人及首席执行官Riccardo Zacconi表示,他们的终极目标是与Zynga并驾齐驱成为休闲社交游戏领军力量。

值得注意的是,King.com入驻Facebook仅一年半左右,而Zynga成立已经近5年,并拥有6530万日常用户,比居于其次的三大游戏开发商总和还要多三倍。

King.com最近向Facebook发布新游戏《Candy Crush Saga》,未来计划开拓手机游戏市场并进行IPO。

2)据techcrunch报道,据知情者透露,社交游戏开发商Kixeye虽然仅以500万MAU居于Facebook开发商榜单第72位,但其游戏盈利能力却甚为惊人,该公司预计今年总营收将超过1亿美元(去年约2500万-5000万美元)。而Zynga财报显示,2011年公司以高达2.4亿的MAU创收11亿美元。

kixeye game-backyard monsters(from kixeye.com)

kixeye game-backyard monsters(from kixeye.com)

Kixeye用户平均每次玩游戏时间超过30分钟,其日常活跃用户平均玩游戏时间超过7个月。一般社交游戏每用户每日平均收益可能仅4美分,而Kixeye每用户盈利性却是这一数据的20倍左右(游戏邦注:Zynga财报显示,2011年第四季度Zynga游戏每用户每日平均收益为6.1美分)。

令人意外的是,Kixeye首席执行官Will Harbin表示他们目前更关注网页游戏,无意入驻手机游戏市场。该公司认为Facebook游戏市场已经趋近饱和,并打算在今年夏季发布一个不同于Facebook的网页平台,预计明年公司来自该平台及Facebook的营收将各占一半左右。

3)据gamasutra报道,The Motley Fool日前针对Zynga斥资1.8亿美元(外加3000万美元员工福利)的高价收购OMGPOP一事分析指出,OMGPOP游戏《Draw Something》虽然下载量发展迅速,但OMGPOP目前仅推出这一款热作,而Zynga却为其投入了相当于之前收购22家公司交易总额的资金,假如OMGPOP团队不能维持这种成功局面,这对Zynga来说就非常不妙。

Zynga-OMGPOP(from openews.net)

Zynga-OMGPOP(from openews.net)

《Draw Something》目前每天收益为25万美元左右(注意这里的25万美元仅指收益而非利润),按照这种比例,Zynga还需要两年以上能收回成本。另外,虽然Zynga目前已通过收购汇集行业顶级的开发者,但如果Zynga不能为这些人才创造新机会,他们最终也会离开或加入竞争对手的阵营。

4)BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment & Games最近与6waves合作,通过后者渠道向Facebook推出一系列基于热门电视节目的社交游戏,其中包括《Top Gear:Speed World》(由Eyes Wide Games开发,但未明确发布时间),以及由Legacy Interactive开发的《Rogues & Romance》(计划于今年春季发布)。

Top Gear:Speed World(from insidesocialgames)

Top Gear:Speed World(from insidesocialgames)

这项合作可助BBC进入社交游戏市场,而6waves则可由此获得更多强大的IP,例如6waves于2011年1月份发行的授权游戏《Spartacus:The Games》至今仍有170万MAU和2万DAU。

5)游戏平台Titan Gaming日前宣布更名为Playsino,并已融资150万美元,将重新调整业务运营方向,开拓社交博彩类游戏市场,目标是成为“全球最大的社交游戏博彩平台”(Titan Gaming原先主要向内容网站、社交网络提供基于现金和奖励的游戏竞赛服务)。

Playsino-logo(from newszapped.com)

Playsino-logo(from newszapped.com)

与此同时,该公司还任命Brock Pierce为新首席执行官,Pierce不但是Clearstone Global Gaming Fund常务理事,还是一名已创立了8家企业并在不同领域收购了30多家公司的企业家。

Pierce认为社交游戏市场已经走向一个拐点,社交博彩游戏将成为这个行业的新催化剂。互联网上约有一半用户,即5.1亿人在玩各种社交游戏;按照H2 Gaming的预测,2013年全球在线博彩业产值将达300亿美元,其中美国占据45亿美元,社交游戏与博彩业的结合将为开发商带来巨大发展机遇。(本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

1)Meet the game developer that sent EA to fourth place on Facebook

by Joe Osborne

King.com, a UK-based game developer that has been on Facebook for all of a year and a half, is now the second largest on the social network in terms of daily players with 10.4 million.

Veteran games publisher EA, on the other hand, now sits in fourth place by that measure behind Wooga with just over 9 million. And King.com doesn’t look to stop there.

“Our ultimate ambition is to be the leader in our segment of games for the casual social player, mainly female, social and mobile,” King.com CEO and co-founder Riccardo Zacconi told Reuters. “Our target is to reach Zynga.”

Keep in mind that Zynga has been around for nearly five years and is home to 65.3 million daily players, more than triple the next three game makers behind it combined. When we spoke with King.com CMO Alex Dale recently as the game creator beat out Wooga in daily players, he chalked the wild success up to iteration and targeting the right audience. In this case, King.com simply took its most popular casual games and made them social.

After just recently seeing Candy Crush Saga debut on Facebook, King.com has its sights on two things for the future: mobile gaming and an initial public offering, according to Reuters.

Europe’s biggest social games maker might have the world’s biggest in sights, but it looks like Zynga is already prepared for an assault.(source:games

2)Kixeye Is The Lucrative Dark Horse of Facebook Gaming

Kim-Mai Cutler

While Zynga and other gaming companies seem to be doing everything possible to claw their way off the Facebook canvas, at least one San Francisco company is still in. Big time.

With just shy of 5 million monthly active users on Facebook, Kixeye is ranked a dismal 72nd on the developer leaderboard behind Zynga, EA and Angry Birds-maker Rovio, according to tracking service AppData.

But the astonishing revenue Kixeye makes per user has the company on track to gross more than $100 million in total revenue this year. That’s up from between $25 to $50 million last year, according to an independent source familiar with Kixeye’s financials. For comparison, Zynga earned $1.1 billion in 2011 on 240 million monthly active users according to its year-end financial report.

Kixeye is part of a class of companies that is taking Facebook gaming far from its “Cow Clicker” past. The company doesn’t target the stereotypical 35-year-old female demographic that Zynga is well-known for, but rather a subset of hardcore gamers that are willing to pay up.

Think fewer virtual potatoes and more epic sea battles with pirates.

“We haven’t sold our souls,” said Kixeye’s chief executive Will Harbin, who plays the company’s games for a few hours every day. “We have found a formula where we can make games that we’re super proud of and that are efficient at contributing to our bottom line.” (That’s Harbin in the picture at the top. Yes, really.)

The company only has a few games under its belt, but they have a longer life cycle than other Facebook games as players stick around for longer.

Battle Pirates is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the entire Earth is submerged under water (kind of like Waterworld minus Kevin Costner). Players have to build and defend bases against the Draconian Empire. Then there’s Backyard Monsters, which has had a surprisingly long lifespan for a Facebook game after launching more than two years ago. The real-time strategy game has players building and raising a monster army. It’s gotten edgier over its life as Kixeye has gotten more comfortable with its demographic.

That strategy of building very immersive games for a smaller, but more lucrative, segment of the market represents a shift that’s happened on the Facebook platform over the past year.

Games on the platform are becoming a lot more diverse than the casual, resource-management or simulation games that have dominated over the past two years. There are games with rich storylines, hidden object titles and bingo. The audience that Kixeye and other similar developers like Kabam and KlickNation, which EA acquired, is just one corner of this changing landscape.

Facebook seems eager to embrace this change too. “It’s our job in the ecosystem to make sure that quality is highly-rewarded,” said Matt Wyndowe, a product manager for games at Facebook. “Developers are finding that there is enormous potential in higher-quality gaming brackets.”

Meanwhile, casual mass-market developers are finding a tougher competitive landscape. You can see a visible slowdown in Zynga’s bookings growth over the past year as Facebook’s 30 percent revenue share ate into the company’s margins. Other social game developers like Kabam, Crowdstar, Funzio and perhaps most notably, OMGPOP, have diversified onto mobile platforms like iOS and Android in the face of thinning profit margins on Facebook.

“Frankly, we don’t need the viral bullshit that other developers depend on,” Harbin said in his characteristically blunt way. “We have the luxury to make the games we want to make.”

Just to give you a rundown of how sticky Kixeye’s games are, the company shared some stats on engagement. The average session length in a Kixeye title is more than 30 minutes and the company’s daily active users have been playing its titles for more than seven months on average. While the average social game might make 4 cents per day per user, Kixeye makes about 20 times that on a per-user basis. (Zynga’s was 6.1 cents per day in the fourth quarter of last year, according to its earnings report.)

Surprisingly, Harbin says he’s not that interested in mobile for the time being. He’s laser-focused on browser-based games. Of course, the long-term question is about how large Kixeye’s market opportunity will ultimately be. Their approach is niche by definition, so how far can it scale?

“Our market is maybe 8 percent saturated,” Harbin said.

To grow its base, Kixeye is looking to launch a web destination off Facebook sometime in the summer. He says Facebook gaming still has a certain stigma attached to it and Kixeye’s hardcore players might feel more comfortable on a site that the company wholly owns.

By next year, the company would like to have a 50-50 split in revenue from Facebook and from its own destination. Kixeye is also looking to staff up to about 300 people by year-end. To do so, they’ve stocked up on these ads with wolves (pictured below) that you might have seen while riding the BART trains around the San Francisco Bay Area.

The company’s momentum has piqued the interest of both investors and prospective buyers. When Andrew Trader, who was part of Zynga’s founding team, came onto the company’s board of directors last fall, Kixeye’s $18 million funding round was so oversubscribed that he couldn’t get his venture firm Maveron into the deal.

“Kixeye’s execution has been incredible,” Trader said. “They’re able to monetize revenge. When one of my friends comes to blow up my base in Battle Pirates, I can’t wait to repay the favor and I’ll pay for the privilege to speed that up.”

Born under the name Casual Collective, Kixeye has raised $19 million to date from Lightspeed Venture Partners, Jafco Ventures and Trinity Ventures. This raises the long-term question of whether Kixeye wants to stay independent or join a larger entity. Another company focused on the same demographic, KlickNation, was acquired by EA last fall.Like many CEOs I talk to, Harbin deflects the question.

“We’re financially independent. We don’t need funding. We don’t need to sell,” he said. “ But obviously, at some point we’ll have to provide liquidity for our shareholders.”

There are interesting candidates out there. Nexon, the Asian freemium gaming company that went public just days before Zynga did, is focused on immersive games. And just because EA did KlickNation, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t consider another gaming company like Kixeye.

Although Zynga chief executive Mark Pincus has said he’s willing to put the company’s $1.8 billion in cash and short-term securities to work on acquisitions, a Kixeye deal would frankly be an odd fit. Zynga’s mission is to do mass-market, casual and social games. While Kixeye has social titles, they are neither casual nor mass-market.

Plus, given how much Harbin harps on the strategy of other casual game-makers, it seems like he would rather be struck by a lightning bolt than be bought by Zynga. Never say never though.(source:techcrunch

3)Analysis: Is Zynga’s spending out of control?

by Chris Morris

Just under a month ago, the games world gasped when Zynga spent $180 million for Draw Something developer OMGPOP (plus a reported $30 million in employee retention payments). While the game was dominating the app store charts, that was still a shocking amount for a company with just one hit.

It turns out, though, that may have been just the beginning. In an interview with Bloomberg this week, Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said he’s hoping to do “a few” more deals for that amount or higher. And that’s when the klaxons in people’s heads should have started sounding.

With $1.8 billion burning a hole in its pocket from its recent IPO (coupled with its complete lack of debt), there’s no arguing that Zynga is cash rich. But by flashing that cash wad so prominently, it’s unnecessarily inflating the price it will ultimately pay for other companies, and causing the tech bubble to expand at a rapid clip. And when that bubble ultimately bursts, Zynga might wish it had kept a little more of that cash in hand.

The spending concerns started, of course, with OMGPOP. Despite having just one hit game and a so-so track record of other, rather generic, games, Zynga paid more for the company than it did for its past 22 acquisitions — combined. Draw Something certainly has earned the right to sell at a premium, but not that much of one — and if the team behind it can’t sustain that level of success with future titles (or if Draw Something turns out to have less staying power than Words With Friends), the sale price — possibly driven upwards thanks to a bidding war — is going to seem even more outrageous.

The Motley Fool did the best job of putting the OMGPOP buy into perspective. Draw Something brings in an estimated $250,000 per day. At that rate, it will be more than two years before Zynga breaks even — and that’s not even factoring in the niggling detail that the $250,000 figure is revenue — not profit.

Zynga, of course, essentially owns the social games scene, but the company’s over-reliance on Facebook has long been a concern — especially as the mobile market continues to grow at a faster pace.

Games like the With Friends franchise have helped Zynga get its foot in the mobile door, but the company is still one of several names fighting to break through. And that’s why we’re seeing it so aggressive on buyouts. With the OMGPOP acquisition, Zynga isn’t just buying a game, but its massive pool of players that can be pulled into other Zynga games.

The dream acquisition, of course, would be Angry Birds developer Rovio, but that company reportedly turned down Zynga’s $2 billion-plus offer. (That’s understandable, given Rovio’s oft-stated goal of going public itself.)

ZeptoLab might make sense as well, given the longevity of the Cut the Rope franchise, but once you get past that, the number of game makers that justify a nine figure buyout virtually disappear.

Buying your way to the top of the charts is a strategy that works in the short term, but is often less successful in the long run. While it makes sense that Zynga does not want to be upstaged as it continues its expansion into the mobile space, there are other ways to guard that position.

The company is full of top tier developers. In fact, it arguably has one of the biggest talent pools in the industry these days. Lately, though, its biggest hits have come through buyouts.

Ultimately, that’s going to raise questions about what the talented people who work there are doing with their time – or worse, it’s going to cause them to leave and either start or join competing companies, Talent retention has already proven to be a weakness at the company. And as the tech market evolves, that’s something Zynga will need to shore up – ’cause when this bubble does burst, having a collection of fading hits and diminished prospects for new ones isn’t going to help the company advance.

What’s truly alarming about Zynga’s recent largesse, however, isn’t so much the fact that it’s on a buying spree – or even that it’s shelling out amounts that make EA’s purchase of PopCap and Playfish and Disney’s takeover of Playdom seem moderate (well, not entirely, at least).

Rather, this spending spree increasingly looks like the company’s way of compensating for deals it desperately wanted in the past, but was unable to secure. PopCap. Ngmoco. Game Closure. Rovio. Any would have been a feather in the company’s hat, but it fell short each time.

Zynga, seemingly, doesn’t want to go through that again — so it’s willing to spend whatever it takes to make a deal happen, even when the smartest thing to do is walk away.(source:gamasutra

4)6waves partners with BBC for Top Gear, Jane Austen social games

Mike Thompson

6waves continues to pick up new IPs to publish. This week, it’s BBC Worldwide Digital Entertainment & Games for a series of Facebook games based on some of the network’s most popular TV shows.

First up are Top Gear: Speed World and the previously announced Jane Austen’s Rogues & Romance. The Top Gear game is being developed by Eyes Wide Games. Rogues & Romance is being handled by Legacy Interactive. Neither of these studios have worked with 6waves in the past, but both of these companies have experience with TV licenses. Eyes Wide Games has worked on CSI: Crime City and Storage Wars; now the developer is also working with AMC and RockYou on the Facebook game for The Walking Dead. Legacy Interactive has a number of TV licensed PC/Mac games (based on shows like Murder She Wrote, The Ghost Whisperer and Criminal Minds) under its belt.

Top Gear: Speed World, unsurprisingly, will let players compete in a series of races featuring stunts and challenges. Further details about gameplay are still scarce but 6waves says players will be able to challenge friends’ race times, build their own tracks and collect cars from the show (though whether or not The Marauder assault vehicle from South Africa will be one of these cars hasn’t been confirmed). Jane Austen’s Rogues & Romance is a hidden object game where players track down Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy after they escape from the book Pride & Prejudice, searching scenes from Austen’s various books. Players will also decorate manors, collect period costumes and host formal balls.

This partnership has some major benefits for both groups. The BBC has certainly gained popularity with international TV audiences over the past few years thanks to shows like Top Gear, Doctor Who and Sherlock, but its presence in the social games field isn’t nearly as expansive as that of 6waves. Now that 6waves has moved away from game development in favor of publishing, strong IPs like BBC programming make for ideal Facebook games because licensed game can stay alive longer than usual between series’ audiences and on-air support. Spartacus: The Game is a prime example of this — even though 6waves launched launched the game in January 2011, it still brings in 170,000 MAU and 20,000 DAU.

Beyond these games, 6waves and the BBC are planning to partner on future BBC-based titles. Top Gear: Speed World doesn’t have a confirmed launch date, though Jane Austen’s Rogues & Romance is scheduled for release in the spring.(source:insidesocialgames

5)Funding In Tow, Playsino Places Its Bet On Social Casino Gaming

Rip Empson

Titan Gaming, the makers of a gaming platform that enables content sites and social networks to offer cash and prize-based game tournaments, is today announcing that it is embarking on a complete makeover that includes its rebranding as Playsino, along with a new focus, CEO, and some new funding.

Under its new moniker, Playsino will look to leverage its traction in the tournaments and virtual rewards space and double down on another emerging vertical: social casino games. Ambitiously, Playsino is setting out to build “the world’s largest social gaming casino platform,” and is naming a new CEO to help lead the way. Brock Pierce, who will be the startup’s CEO, is the managing Director of the Clearstone Global Gaming Fund, and a serial entrepreneur, having founded eight companies and acquired 30 more in various capacities.

Pierce played an early role in the development of virtual goods, founding Internet Gaming Entertainment (IGE) in 2001 and Zam in 2003. In addition to new leadership, Playsino is also announcing today that it has raised $1.5 million in venture capital as part of an ongoing round. The investment was led by IDM Venture Capital, a Singapore-based venture capital firm, Pacific Capital Group, Siemer Ventures, and a number of angel investors, including Jordan Simons of GCP and Wicks Walker of W4 Ventures. Existing investor Tomorrow Ventures also participated in the round.

With its new capital in tow, Playsino is setting out on a mission to build the largest free-to-play social casino on the Web. Pierce believes that social gaming is at an inflection point, and that social casino games are the catalyst for that movement. Half of the people on the web, or about 510 million, he says, play some sort of social game — a gaming audience that has grown by 71 percent since 2010. With H2 Gaming’s estimate that online gambling could be worth as much as $30 billion globally by 2013, and the U.S. accounting for $4.5 billion of that total, online betting represents a big opportunity.

Social casino games have the ability combine the addictiveness of the games that have made Zynga such a big player in social gaming, like Farmville, with the monetization strategies of more hardcore games, which Pierce believes is a dangerous combination. The CEO says that he’s focused on using the startup’s new capital to step up internal development, but that the company also aims to publish relevant third-party content and will look to acquire independent players as well. So likely we’ll see Playsino developing its own casino games in conjunction with building a platform that allows developers and established players to sell their games as well, taking a cue from Zynga.com.

While the space represents opportunity, the big casino and gambling companies are also in the process of moving online, and competition is certainly going to increase. There’s also been plenty of attention from the Justice Department, and as the space moves forward, it’s likely to include a number of regulations to protect consumers — but which may also limit the amount gamers are allowed to gamble. According to BusinessWeek, at least five states have already introduced legislation that would allow people to play web poker against those in other states.

It’s a space that’s very much in transition as states consider online gambling legislation, and its evolution may well be shaped by regulatory restraints, but there’s certainly a lot of money to be made in social casino gaming, and Playsino wants to be a part of that. Though it’s still early, the established game companies have an easier road into social casino gaming when they see how the space will be regulated, so the startup will have to be ready with some addictive, quality games if it wants to avoid being stifled by the Zyngas and EAs of the world.(source:techcrunch


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