Game Network Newsletter - October 2011
October 3, 2011 (Back to archive)
In This Issue:
- PapayaMobile - Papaya Mobile discusses Gateway to China program, apps for public good & GDC Online presence
- Nexage - Nexage discusses mobile game advertising, real-time bidding platform, & GDC Online Monetization Track
- GDC Online - Neal Stephenson To Keynote GDC Online's Game Narrative Summit
Paul Chen, head of developer relations at PapayaMobile, discusses helping Western developers launch their games in China, how mobile games can support valuable causes, and GDC Online's Smartphone/Tablet Summit
Q: Paul, PapayaMobile describes itself as an "open mobile social network for Android focused on casual gaming and virtual currency." For readers who aren't familiar with PapayaMobile, what does it offer gamers that other similar networks don't?
Paul Chen: PapayaMobile is one of the most compelling and engaging mobile social networks with over 25 million users focused on social gaming. The most important difference between Papaya and similar networks is our ability to enhance the gaming experience through social interactivity within our network.
When Papaya first started, we built our social network in parallel with social games. By taking this approach, we were able to fine tune the interaction between the social game and the underlying social network. We optimized the amount of time a user spends playing the game and the amount of time the user spends interacting with their friends to enhance the gaming experience. Through this optimization, we believe we have figured out the right formula for social interactivity in mobile games.
Our users have sent over 93 million pMails (in-game e-mails), had over 11 million virtual good transactions, and almost half a million posts within circles (mobile forum topics created by users for users). Our platform has enabled an entirely new level of interaction and is the number one reason why the average social game built using our Papaya Game Engine makes over $20,000 a month.
Q: What do you offer developers who are creating Android games and what do they need to do to partner with you?
Chen: In addition to tapping into a user base that has an AARPU of $22.60, developers are also taking advantage of the virality on our network. For example, our platform provides a forum for friends to introduce games to each other through various means (game invitations, player challenges, virtual good gifting, etc.). As opposed to traditional app discovery (users trolling through app stores in an attempt to find the latest and greatest games), users on the Papaya network are recommending games to each other and simplifying app discovery. Developers interested in partnering with us should head to the developer section of our Web site.
Q: You've recently started a "Gateway To China" program for Western developers who want to launch their games in China. How does that work?
Chen: PapayaMobile is a Beijing-headquartered company and, through our three years of operations there, we know the China smartphone ecosystem better than anyone.
Our "Gateway To China" program leverages that knowledge and is an exciting opportunity for developers who want to tap into the fastest-growing Android market in the world with absolutely no upfront fees. The China market is ripe with opportunity but many developers lack the resources to enter an extremely difficult marketplace. In China, Android Marketplace is not available on legally sold phones, meaning the best distribution channel for Android developers is essentially gone. Games have to be localized for Chinese users as a significant portion of the population still do not read English. Billing channels are different from the West as Google's In-App billing solution is not available and most users do not use credit cards for mobile purchases.
Given these difficulties, we simplify and streamline entry into China by providing free localization services, uploading partner games to key China app stores, promoting these games within our social network, and offering pre-load opportunities with carriers and OEMs for select games.
Developers who are interested in learning more about the barriers and opportunities of the Chinese market should come to my GDC Online session. And, to submit a game for our "Gateway To China" program, head to the "Gateway To China" section of our Web site.
Q: Earlier this year PapayaMobile announced a partnership with "One Economy's Applications for Good" which, you said, "was designed to drive a new breed of mobile apps for public purpose." Tell me a little more about the program and how you measure its success.
Chen: At Papaya, we have been feeling the benefits of the virtual world for the past three years, making significant revenue off our social games and platform. When we learned of Applications For Good's charter, we saw an opportunity for us to translate the benefits we see in the virtual world to people in the real world that truly need our assistance.
We are in the process of helping philanthropic organizations develop mobile games that would promote specific social causes and also serve as a revenue generator for non-profits. Success will ultimately be measured by our ability to drive revenue and educate mobile users about the causes associated with our program.
Q: You recently participated at GDC Europe. Why is that important to a network that, after all, is primarily focused on China?
Chen: Yes, GDC Europe was a big success for us. It was a chance for Papaya to get face time with the European developer community, learn their issues and concerns, and share our value proposition.
I would disagree, however, that our network is primarily focused on China. We are a global network of 25 million users and have seen over 200% growth in the U.S. and Europe during 2011 as well. Since our announcement that we will no longer be publishing new titles, third-party content plays a crucial role for our future growth. We go where the best developer talent resides and the European developer community is certainly a priority for Papaya.
Q: Papaya is a platinum sponsor of GDC Online's Smartphone/Tablet Summit. Why is participation in GDC Online important to Papaya's ongoing strategy?
Chen: Each GDC event brings the brightest and best developer talent and GDC Online is no different. GDC Online, with its Smartphone/Tablet Summit, provides us an opportunity to get our message out to the right crowd and nurture the relationships we already have.
I will be speaking at multiple sessions during GDC Online and sharing my thoughts about the Android market in China. We are excited to be sponsoring the show this year and look forward to meeting all the attendees!
Ernie Cormier, CEO and president of Nexage, talks about advertising in mobile games, his company's real-time bidding ad platform, and GDC Online's Monetization Track
Q: Ernie, Nexage describes itself as the leading provider of market liquidity in mobile advertising. In simple terms, what does that mean?
Ernie Cormier: "Market liquidity" means buyers and sellers enjoy an efficient market where they can buy and sell in a predictable manner – sellers have a sufficient number of buyers and associated demand to drive revenue, and buyers can buy what they want, when they want it, and at a fair market price.
We believe that the primary driving force for mobile advertising is liquidity and, more to the point, liquidity at scale. We provide the market's only integrated real-time bidding (RTB) and mediation platform to monetize both mobile Web and applications – the Nexage Revenue Platform. It enables publishers to sell inventory on a single platform and connect to over 100 demand sources (ad networks and demand side platforms), and enables buyers to efficiently access, target, and buy a rich and diverse mobile Web and applications ad inventory from over 200 premium publishers and 700 individual sites and apps. This gives buyers and sellers the richest opportunity to buy and sell for mobile Web and applications across mobile platforms, and for any ad type, including rich media and video ad units.
Q: I know that Rovio, the developer of "Angry Birds," recently picked Nexage to help them monetize their 250 million-plus downloads through advertising. What should other game
developers know about how they can benefit from your services?
Cormier: Advertising, executed well, is a powerful revenue engine, especially when you can provide ads that are relevant to your users with ad placements that maximize engagement. We advise our clients on methods to make their mobile games, apps, and Web sites more attractive for advertisers to drive maximum revenue while ensuring the integrity of the user experience, which we know is always a concern for the game developer.
The basics where we can help include identifying optimal ad placement, providing first-party data, and analyzing their geo profile (where their traffic is coming from) to serve the most appropriate ads. Above and beyond the basics, we work with our clients to define business rules to strike the optimal balance between revenue performance and brand management, to make their inventory highly targetable for advertisers, and to guide them on best practices for accepting rich media and video ad units.
So, in addition to giving game developers a single, integrated RTB and mediation platform to monetize their apps via a lightweight yet robust SDK suite – Android, BlackBerry, iPad, and iPhone – we have a tremendous amount of experience and expertise in guiding our customers through the often-confusing world of mobile advertising.
Q: Nexage seems to be on a roll. You're Boston-based but you've just recently added new offices in New York and San Francisco, and you've expanded your executive, engineering, and sales teams. What does that say about the current state of mobile advertising?
Cormier: We are rapidly entering a timeframe where we stop talking only about potential and start celebrating how some are realizing success today. I'm proud to say that we are one of those companies leading the charge.
Behind the hype about mobile advertising, there is this wonderful truth: mobile advertising is unique and delivers value simply not available in online and TV advertising. That value is to connect to a mobile consumer that more likely than not has a smartphone, spends more time on mobile Internet than online, and sees their device and applications as an extension of themselves.
Q: We've read that you've just added ORMMA support to your real-time bidding ad platform. How is that significant?
Cormier: Consumers have a high expectation for visual quality and interactivity. So the first part of the equation is to bring visually compelling and engaging creative ads to mobile to deliver the results advertisers expect.
The second part is standards. Without standards like ORMMA, advertisers, publishers, and developers must manage an unnecessary level of cost and complexity such that it artificially limits the market. With ORMMA – and VAST (for video ads), for that matter – advertisers and their production and technology partners can efficiently build creatives that consumers like, game developers can maintain consistency and control over the behavior of their app (while gaining access to high-paying campaigns), and the buyers have a predictable way to engage customers.
Q: You've just signed on as a Gold sponsor for the Monetization Track at GDC Online. What convinced Nexage to participate in the show this way?
Cormier: We went to GDC in San Francisco this year and were so impressed with the agenda and energy; this is such a great venue for an industry – gaming – that is also in hyper-growth. But game developers need to feed their families. We are all in this together, mutually building this industry. As a leader, Nexage can help some of the game developers demystify how to monetize their games and help others go from a toe-in-the-water to creating a powerful and sustainable revenue stream.
Overall, we have a great technology and certainly experience with industry leaders like Rovio, so we want to bring that value to the attendees.
Q: Not only will you be running a few sessions at GDC Online, but you'll also have a booth. What can attendees expect to learn by visiting either – or both?
Cormier: First, that we are approachable, honest people that really want to help them. Beyond that, attendees can gain useful insights on mobile advertising.
There is still a bit of a noise and confusion in the market. We want to cut through the noise and provide clarity about what is possible and how to build a revenue stream from mobile advertising. We can talk about how our existing customers, like Rovio, are taking advantage of mobile advertising so they can learn from their peers. They can learn about how our integrated RTB and mediation platform can give them extraordinary access to buyers and provide a very compelling revenue opportunity.We hope to see everyone swing by and say "hi."
GDC Online Debuts First Sessions For Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit
GDC Online 2011 organizers have announced that renowned writer Neal Stephenson will keynote the October show's Game Narrative Summit, where he will take part in an on-stage Q&A with game journalist Geoff Keighley.
The keynote, titled "Music, Movies, Microcode, & High-Speed Pizza Delivery: A Conversation with Neal Stephenson," will delve into a host of writing and game-related of topics, including Stephenson's new novel REAMDE, which is set against the backdrop of the game industry. In addition to the keynote, Stephenson will host a special book signing elsewhere in the show (location and time to be determined).
Stephenson's previous work includes novels such as Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Zodiac, the three-volume The Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World) and Snow Crash, which was TIME Magazine's named one of the 100 all-time best English-language novels. He is known for exploring and redefining genres ranging from cyberpunk to the historical epic.
Keighley, who will host the Q&A, has spent more than half his life covering the video game business as a journalist, TV personality, and producer. Currently, he serves as host and executive producer of Spike TV's Gametrailers TV, which is consistently the highest rated video games show on television. Keighley is also a freelance writer, whose work has appeared in publications such as Kotaku, Business 2.0, and Entertainment Weekly.
This keynote will take place within GDC Online's ever-popular Game Narrative Summit, which includes numerous lectures, panels, and more from some of the industry's most respected professionals -- featuring speakers from Valve, BioWare Austin, Telltale Games, and more. In addition to the Game Narrative Summit, GDC Online will feature two additional Summits covering Smartphone & Tablet Games and Virtual Items, respectively.
Event organizers previously announced that PopCap co-founder John Vechey will also give a keynote at GDC Online, where he will discuss how his company is adapting its popular single-player games to social platforms. Other recent announcements for GDC Online include new sessions within the show's Smartphone & Tablet Games Summit, and a handful of full-day sponsored events from Blizzard Entertainment, Google, and Unity Technologies.GDC Online, which will take place in Austin, Texas from October 10-13, 2011, will once again serve as the leading worldwide event dedicated solely to discussing the development and business trends surrounding connected games -- including casual titles, MMOs, virtual worlds, and social networking games.
For more information on GDC Online as the event takes shape, please visit the official GDC Online website, or subscribe to updates from the new GDC Online-specific news page via Twitter, Facebook, or RSS. GDC Online is owned and operated by UBM TechWeb.
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.