Amsterdam-based social gaming platform Spil Games thinks Facebook alone doesn’t provide enough to satiate expansion-hungry gaming companies looking to become the next Zynga, and its developer partners would seem to agree. This week, Spil Games announced that Digital Chocolate would be the newest addition to its list of partners, bringing the company’s Galaxy Life social gaming title to the Spil Games stable.
Spil Games provides developers like Digital Chocolate, which has already had considerable success on platforms like the iOS App Store and Facebook with its in-app purchase and micro-transaction-driven titles, the opportunity to not only grow their user base, but also to make sure they’re targeting users in the right way.
“Localization is definitely a core value proposition for game makers. It’s important to note that localization isn’t only about direct translation of words,” said Floris Jan Cuypers, Vice President of Corporate Development & External Communications at Spil Games. “Equally important is cultural localization. For instance, our U.K. and U.S. platforms are both in English, but the content is different. You’d find more cricket games in the U.K. than in the U.S., for example.”
Cuypers said that while developers can definitely leverage Facebook to reach a broad audience, developers aren’t always necessarily happy with the tools that platform provides in terms of helping focus their efforts. “What we hear from developers is they’re looking for targeted reach as well,” he said. “And, that it’s getting more and more difficult and expensive to get visibility and grow an audience.” As the reach of Facebook and other social gaming platforms like iOS increase, so does the crowd of developers using them, so discoverability becomes a challenge.
Aside from demographic targeting, longevity is another pain point for social titles, and another issue Jan Cuypers says Spil Games addresses. “Once the game is launched Spil Games continues to support the game by marketing the games and working with developers to keep the game alive with players,” he told us.
In exchange for its services, Spil Games charges developers based on a shared revenue model, taking a varying percentage based on a game-maker’s needs in terms of marketing, localization, etc. By contrast, making a game for Facebook is free, but marketing through the social network is extra; publishing on iOS app entitles Apple to a 30 percent cut of all revenues derived through the app, and doesn’t necessarily guarantee any marketing support from Apple.
Spil Games says they have 170 million monthly unique users; not nearly as much as Facebook, obviously, but the company also says its average revenue per user (ARPU) is growing by about 30 percent every month. As another tool in the pocket of companies looking to expand their discovery options, and their international appeal, Spil Games is a strong contender, and the Digital Chocolate partnership is a sign that early leaders in social gaming are taking note. Long-term, Spil Games might face challenges as bigger platform owners like Apple, Facebook and Google work to improve the deficiencies Cuypers points to above, but it could also set itself up as a prime acquisition target to help address those problems.