Thứ Ba, 12 tháng 7, 2011

SpilGames plays host to Bigpoint

SpilGames, the Dutch online gaming company that is the world’s second largest online games platform after Facebook by monthly users, has announced a deal to host German developer Bigpoint’s games on its websites.
The privately-held companies announced no terms, but SpilGames’ previous tie-ups have typically involved splitting revenues from advertising and micropayments within games, with 50-60 per cent going to it and the rest to the developer.


The deal comes as independent online gaming websites struggle to compete with Facebook, which became number one in online gaming by dominating the social networking space. Zynga, the social gaming company whose recently announced IPO is expected to raise up to $2bn, is almost entirely dependent on Facebook to draw in players.
Heiko Hubertz, Bigpoint’s chief executive, said the decision to tie up with SpilGames reflected that company’s greater interest in promoting game play. On Facebook, developers must pay the host to promote games to users, whereas part of SpilGames’ mission as host is to link users of its websites to games they might like, such as car chase game Lose the Heat.
“Facebook is not a gaming website,” said Mr Hubertz. “Their first interest is not that the user find our games ... but that users can communicate.”
SpilGames is one of the few independent gaming platforms to prosper during the Facebook era, seeing its monthly unique users – the number of separate people who visit its websites each month – grow to 130m in May, up from 99m at the end of 2009. The company competes with Facebook by integrating social networking into the games it hosts, allowing users to set up profiles and create their own content.
Peter Driessen, chief executive, believes SpilGames can build a dedicated social networking platform for gaming just as LinkedIn did for business. “Of course we were a little afraid at first, can we compete with Facebook? But now we see our audience growing every day,” he said.
The online and mobile gaming market is expected to grow to half of the overall video game market, or $44bn, by 2014, according to Digi-Capital.
But with Facebook gobbling up a huge share of total internet use, independent gaming platforms face a battle to retain users. “Facebook is 25 per cent of the time spent on the internet now,” said Lou Kerner of Wedbush Securities, a social media analyst. “So it’s a struggle for every standalone.”
SpilGames’ websites target girls, teenagers generally and families. The company owns dozens of “games” and “girls’ games” domain names, such as in Britain, in France, in the US and in Mexico.
The company does not disclose financials, but outside estimates put revenues at €30m in 2010, mainly from advertising. The company expects rapid revenue growth from “virtual goods” such as gardening tools in farming games.
SpilGames has converted its sites to the HTML5 standard, allowing them to be played easily out of web browsers on mobile devices. Mr Driessen thinks the shift will take the advantage away from games inside Facebook or iPhone apps, which require downloading.
Tim Merel of Digi-Capital said: “SpilGames is one of the great successes, from a distribution platform point of view, outside of Facebook in western markets. Holding that position is going to take a lot of work.”

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