Archive for June, 2008

What does the 3G iPhone mean for social games?

June 10, 2008

Like thousands of fellow geeks, we were glued to our screens yesterday for Steve Jobs’ WWDC keynote, in which he unveiled the 3G iPhone and talked about iPhone games and the related App Store. Naturally, we have some thoughts on what it all means for social games, and us as a company.

The 3G iPhone’s combination of usability, fast network access and its large touchscreen have huge potential for casual gaming. Add to that the emotional component of playing to beat your real-world friends instead of just playing games to kill time, and you wonder if there’s a better handheld game platform around!

There are challenges to getting social games onto the iPhone, but they’re more likely to be commercial than technical. Getting something to run fast enough on the handset won’t be an issue, and Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect should make accessing people’s friend lists straightforward. The challenge will be getting the open internet commercial model to translate into an environment (iPhone/iTunes) where an upfront payment model is more standard.

Both browser-based and downloadable social games will be possible on iPhone, although downloadable games will offer the better user experience. However, whether games are browser based or downloadable isn’t so relevant to the consumer – the more significant point is how consumers will pay for games in the future, and thus what the overall user experience will be.

Mobile has traditionally been a pay-per-download environment for games, and anything aside from that (and some limited subscription models) has struggled to take off. However, online games companies like Sulake (Habbo Hotel), Nexon (Maple Story) and others have shown that web-based models using micro transactions supported by advertising can be compelling for consumers, and profitable for game publishers.

As an open internet device, the iPhone should be capable of both models, so it’ll be interesting to see which takes hold over time.

And as for Playfish? We’re already a registered iPhone developer and we’re constantly watching the space. Having built a mobile games company previously, we still believe that mobile is the future mass market entertainment platform. However, rather than growing through the closed digital retail environments of network operators, we believe mobile will be just another access method to the open internet in the future.

Social games are the most engaging form of casual gaming online, and we believe that will translate to mobile – including iPhone – in the long run. It’s just a matter of time…

All three Playfish titles in Facebook games top 10!

June 9, 2008

At Playfish we love to celebrate – and this time we have a good reason! As of today, all three of our social games – Who Has The Biggest Brain?, Word Challenge, and Bowling Buddies – are nestling in the Facebook Top 10 games chart.

facebook games top 10 on 9 June 2008

Combined, our three titles now attract around 700,000 daily unique players who spend on average over 35 minutes per day playing our games.

We’re hugely proud of our studios for this, so wanted to recognise them for a job well done. The fact that we got there in less than 6 months after launch without any external advertising makes it even more worthy of celebrating.

Here are some other metrics from the month of May which we may as well celebrate at the same time:

  1. More than 300 million minutes of monthly player engagement (~10% of YouTube’s monthly engagement!)
  2. More than three million monthly unique players
  3. We’re now a top-3 game focused company on Facebook by engagement

If you’re wondering why we focus on engagement metrics, it’s because we believe engagement is the best way of measuring how much players are enjoying our games and we also believe it’s the best proxy for value for in-game transactions and advertising in the long run.

Anyway, congratulations to our London, Arctic and China studios for an excellent job so far. We’re working hard putting the finishing touches on our next title, so hopefully there will be more to celebrate in the near future!

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