Game Network Newsletter - November 2012
November, 2012 (Back to archive)
In This Issue:
- Games.com- John Fox, general manager at Games.com, talks about "the new Games.com," its soon-to-be-launched Developer Center, and opportunities for developers, publishers, and advertisers.
- PlayJam - Anthony Johnson, CMO at PlayJam, chats about the future of games on Smart TV, how developers can partner with the PlayJam Games Platform, and plans for the upcoming GDC Next and the App Developers Conference.
- Fiksu - Craig Palli, VP of business development and client services at Fiksu, discusses its Fiksu for Mobile Apps platform, the decrease in app downloads for the iPhone 5, and the webinar for Fiksu's new SDK.
John Fox, general manager at Games.com, talks about "the new Games.com," its soon-to-be-launched Developer Center, and opportunities for developers, publishers, and advertisers.
Q:John, last month you unveiled what you called the "new Games.com" with cross-device functionality. How does the new Games.com differ from the old Games.com?
John Fox: The most noticeable differences are the platform-agnostic approach, the expanded library of over 5000 games, and the user-centric focus with our personalization features and the social bar. Users are looking to play games wherever they are and we wanted to bring them a seamless way to experience that no matter the device they are on. Our personalization features and social bar recommend to the user games they might like to play and try to take the hassle out of game discovery. We want playing games to be a fun and easy experience. Players shouldn't have to worry about whether their game works on a certain device or about trying to find a game they will love. We do all the work and let the users have all the fun.
Q: As part of AOL.com, you provide a distribution and monetization platform for developers, publishers, and advertisers. But how do you distinguish your service from all the others out there?
Fox: There is no one in the marketplace that can offer developers the power of the AOL network – with its 112M consumers per month, according to the September comScore -- with a fully scaled advertising platform through the Advertising.com Group and a powerful transactions platform in one place that reflows across all screens. Very simply, we want developers to focus on building great games and we'll do the rest. For advertisers, we have just announced a new suite of advertising products. It allows advertisers to reach a highly engaged audience through creative, innovative, and seamless integrations on any device. No one has mastered advertising plus gaming yet and we are poised to be the leaders. For publishers, the specifics on the product have not yet been released, but it's a turnkey way we plan to enable brands to further engage their users and grow revenue. The way we are working with brands to roll this out will be state-of-the-art.
Q: Your Web site talks about your growing developer community. How does Games.com select the developers it chooses to partner with and what do developers need to do to partner with Games.com?
Fox: The Games.com Developer Center has not launched yet, but stay tuned for details in the coming months. We have already begun working with various developer meetups and will launch a closed beta in the coming months. Any developers interested in learning more can sign up at dev.games.com and you'll be notified as soon as it's up and running.
Q: What was exhibiting at GDC Online last month like? Got any good war stories to tell?
Fox:The GDC Online conference was great! We met a lot of great, new developers and potential business partners. We took over the burger joint across the street and dubbed it the Games.com Grill which was a huge hit and had numerous people come up to start conversations to thank us for the burgers, and ended up turning into very interesting partners. There were also some great giveaways and some Ms. Pacman playing!
Q:I'm sure you've heard that this year's GDC Online will be the last ... and that, next year, GDC Next together with the App Developers Conference (ADC) will take its place. Have any thoughts on that?
Fox: I think it's a really great idea. As gaming and mobile are very closely tied, I think it will be a great conference and that it will spark some interesting new ideas through panels and discussions.
Anthony Johnson, CMO at PlayJam, chats about the future of games on Smart TV, how developers can partner with the PlayJam Games Platform, and plans for the upcoming GDC Next and the App Developers Conference.
Q: Your PlayJam Network describes itself as a global games publishing platform for Smart TV games. What does that mean exactly?
Anthony Johnson: PlayJam immediately recognized the potential of Smart TV back in 2009 when the industry was first emerging. Since then, we have been busy working with all of the major manufacturers to ensure that PlayJam features prominently within their app stores globally. Through our agreements with Samsung, LG, Sony, and Panasonic (and others), we have ensured that wherever their Smart TVs are sold, PlayJam is present. This footprint effectively gives our content partners a direct window into over 100 million living rooms worldwide via the PlayJam Games Network today. A recent report by iHS forecasts the number of Smart TV devices in circulation to reach over 1 billion devices by the end of 2016. Behind the Network sits the PlayJam Games Platform which is effectively a suite of tools for developers designed specifically to enhance, monetize, and promote games on TV prior to publication across our Network.
Q:Last month you nabbed the award for the Best TV app at the inaugural Appsters Award ceremony. What is the app's function and who should be interested in it?
Johnson:We did indeed and we are very proud of it! The app was the PlayJam Games Hub application which is an editorially managed, account-driven single point of entry into our Games Network. This application contains all of the games that we currently carry consisting mainly of simple, fun-to-play casual games. Our demographic is 50% male and 50% female with an average age of 32. The current proposition is viewed very much as our initial launch and is built in a lightweight version of flash in order to be compatible with earlier Smart TV devices. Games are downloaded temporarily to the device each time from the PlayJam cloud and run locally. We are in the process of rolling out support for games written in AS3 and C++ which can run on later models of TV thereby supporting a richer gaming experience with a new completely redesigned interface for the Games Hub. Our black ops team is currently working on support for a hybrid-streaming platform that will be able to support high-end gaming which we hope to release some time in the future. This is a tricky area with few players but we believe the technology has yet to be convincingly cracked.
Q: PlayJam recently partnered with several game developers -- including GameHouse, First Star Software, Relentless Software, Slingo, and Puzzler -- to distribute their titles across your network. How can other interested developers get involved?
Johnson:We are working with some great partners on the content side, all of whom recognize the opportunity of Smart TV and want to be ready. We will have a few larger partnership announcements to make over the coming weeks that we are really excited about. Interested parties should go to www.playjam.com/sdk to register their interest with us.
Q: You had an exhibit at GDC Online last month. What was that experience like?
Johnson:Great! GDC is an essential fixture for PlayJam delivering a stream of new partnerships each time we attend. Logistically the show ran very smoothly for us due to the great team running the show behind the scenes. (Debbie Beam, we love you!)
Q: Next year, the brand new GDC Next plus the App Developers Conference will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Is that something you plan to participate in? And, if so, why?
Johnson:We will indeed. Any show that focuses in particular on the app market will be high on our list to attend. Some shows can get too big and we have found those with a more focused agenda relevant to PlayJam deliver the best results.
Craig Palli, VP of business development and client services at Fiksu, discusses its Fiksu for Mobile Apps platform, the decrease in app downloads for the iPhone 5, and the webinar for Fiksu's new SDK.
Q: Craig, I'm sure there are those readers out there who have never heard of Fiksu. What services do you offer that they can take advantage of?
Craig Palli: Fiksu helps leading game brands optimize their iOS and Android mobile app marketing campaigns and secure large volumes of loyal users. Our flagship platform -- Fiksu for Mobile Apps --spans the entire mobile ecosystem providing the most cost-effective, predictable, and intelligent mobile advertising solution for slashing user acquisition costs by 30-50% and ensuring sustained user engagement. Fiksu has the world's largest mobile traffic reach with access to more than 225 billion monthly ad impressions that game developers can leverage via highly optimized real-time ad buys. What makes Fiksu different? Specifically:
Advanced optimization technology. Fiksu's optimization and attribution technologies link monetization events -- such as in-app purchases, repeat usage, or other client-defined actions to ad sources allowing Fiksu to optimize events that drive ROI. Many market players simply focus on optimizing downloads, but a large percentage of downloads never turn into productive users. Fiksu's approach generates a much higher yield of engaged, repeat users who take actions that drive our clients' business models. Equally important, Fiksu is able to deliver results in volume. Many market players have limited access to traffic and can only deliver optimized results at low volumes.
Massive scalability. Access to large data sets is extremely important for the quality of optimization models. Larger data sets provide more robust, highly granular decisions that isolate the most effective segments of ad traffic. Fiksu's architecture is designed to support extremely high volumes in real time, and it handles more than 150 million events per day.
Unparalleled access to inventory. Fiksu has invested heavily in integrations across the ecosystem, giving us access to more than 40 networks and real-time bidding exchanges that represent more than 225 billion monthly impressions. Our centralized buying power ensures you can reach your largest potential audience at the most efficient cost. We can also leverage FreeMyApps, a unique app discovery network that drives large volumes of extremely cost-effective downloads thanks to a vibrant social network that includes 78,000 Twitter followers, 50,000 Facebook likes, and more than 550,000 active users.
Q:Fiksu just reported that demand for the iPhone 5 prompted a decrease in app downloads and mobile app marketing costs in August. What's going on here? Is this bad news for developers?
Palli: No, this didn't spell bad news for developers – quite the contrary. We viewed August as the calm before the storm for game developers and app marketers. Similar to the period preceding the iPhone 4S launch in 2011, we saw users holding off on downloading apps in the weeks before the much-anticipated iPhone 5 launch. App marketers also slowed their advertising spending during August, awaiting the availability of iOS 6 in September and the chance to promote updated apps. The combined effect made for a slow month overall. But, after hitting stores on Friday, Sept. 21, it took just one weekend for Apple to sell 5 million iPhone 5 devices beating the opening weekend for the iPhone 4S by 1 million units. The iPhone 5's arrival brought a fantastic mobile app marketing opportunity for developers and brands. Advertisers should be aware that all those new iPhone owners will be discovering and downloading games and other apps for weeks – even months – after the launch, creating a bargain period for marketers to quickly secure large volumes of quality, loyal users at decreased costs.
Q: You just released your SDK Version 3.0. What can that do for developers who upgrade??
Palli:We unveiled SDK Version 3.0 for iOS in September to help developers and marketers navigate Apple's new iOS 6 and ensure a seamless transition to Apple's new Advertising Identifier which provides a new, standardized way for advertisers to track and attribute in-app advertising, and will ultimately replace Unique Device Identifier (UDID). Our new SDK enables game developers and marketers to tie mobile media spend to app downloads and loyal usage – both crucial to overall app marketing performance and success. The Fiksu Platform is the only solution that integrates app marketing attribution with real-time optimization technology to make attribution data immediately and continuously actionable. To learn more, I encourage you to check out our on-demand webinar.
Q: I know that you exhibited at GDC Online in Austin last month. Was that a first for you? Why was it part of your business strategy?
Palli: This was our first year at GDC online, but we've been to a lot of other GDC events and had great results -- lots of interest from new prospects as well as the chance to talk to some of our existing clients. The marketplace for mobile games is so competitive that developers are always looking for new ways to promote their games and climb up the ranks, and our value prop is a great fit for those goals. We ran an exciting promo for our FreeMyApps product that included a giveaway of 5,000 installs for an App Store game, which generated some good conversations at the show.
Q: Now that GDC Online 10-year run has ended and that, in 2013, GDC Next plus the App Developers Conference will take place in Los Angeles (Nov. 5-7), how will that affect your business strategy?
Palli: We expect to continue exhibiting as the show transitions to its new home. The Fiksu Platform works for all kinds of apps, not just games, so the combination of games with other types of apps is a great fit, and the show seems to attract the big brands and names in the industry that are great candidates to work with us. We're also continuing to expand our global presence, so we're really looking forward to GDC China in a few weeks and GDC in San Francisco next spring as well.
Paul has covered the videogames industry for over 15 years now, currently writes for Gamasutra.com, and was editor-in-chief of UBM's GamePower.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.