Social Point’s Andrés Bou on Dragon City’s success on mobile, sticking with the Facebook platform and plans for 2013
Today’s Q&A is with Barcelona-based mobile-social game developer Social Point.
Inside Mobile Apps: Could you talk about the importance of nailing cross-platform gameplay such as allowing users to pick up and play where they left off on either platform?
Andrés Bou, Social Point co-founder and co-CEO (pictured left with co-founder and co-CEO Horacio Martos): Offering a full cross-platform experience has been a core strategy of Social Point this year. With access through both Facebook and mobile, our users are able to play the same game wherever they are, without missing a beat. Dragon City players can now enjoy the game from their phones, when they are commuting to work, at their offices or back home on their tablets, curled up on the sofa.
From a business point of view, giving users the opportunity to play on multiple platforms increases their time spent in the game and the likelihood that they come back every day. Retention (and proportionally monetization) increases significantly.
Additionally, we value the social component that Facebook integration offers because it’s closely linked to our company’s philosophy.
IMA: What do you think has driven the success of Dragon City on mobile? It’s been creeping up the top grossing iPhone apps chart over the past few weeks.
Bou: Dragon City has been a hit on Facebook from the beginning. Right now, about one year since launch, it is currently fifth in terms of Facebook users, with more than 6 million daily active users (DAU). Even better, it was the second best-rated Facebook game of 2012, so we had high expectations when we released the mobile version.
When we designed the mobile game, our first priority was to offer exactly the same features that we have on Facebook while improving the user experience. We tweaked a lot of the game’s user interfaces and goals, trying to adapt and optimize each aspect of the game for different iOS devices.
In terms of design, we needed to offer a great game to our existing Facebook users but also offer a fun experience to players who are new to Dragon City. Also, we should mention that we tested the game for several months and carried out lots of focus groups until we reached the key performance indicators (KPI) we were seeking.
IMA: Is there any data that you can mention about Dragon City on iOS? How many downloads have you seen since launch a few weeks ago? Possibly ARPU or retention percentage?
Bou: On Dragon City Mobile, we have nearly reached five million downloads. Our retention is very good and this allows the game to grow organically week-by-week. For instance, our seven-day retention is more than 30 percent.
About monetization, we can say that the ARPU is three times better than the Facebook version.
IMA: Will Social Point go down the same route as many social developers, pivoting focus from social to mobile?
Bou: Our strategy consists of two different things: consolidating on Facebook as the lead mid-core developer and finishing this year as one of the top 10 developers on mobile.
We expect to launch three more games on mobile this year. From now on, all our games will have both a Facebook and a mobile version, but we will never forget the social component that enhances the users’ experience.
As you’ll see with Dragon City mobile, we kept all the social components that players loved on Facebook, like visiting friends’ islands to help them, sending gifts and, of course, battling in fiery dragon duels against other players.
IMA: Will more of your Facebook games come to mobile?
Bou: From now on, all our new titles will be launched on both Facebook and mobile (iOS and Android). We’re really committing to mobile; currently more than half our production staff are working on mobile development.
IMA: On the other hand, in April, Dragon City was in the top five on the top 25 Facebook games chart by DAU and top 10 on the top 25 Facebook games by monthly active users (MAU) chart, is Facebook still a viable platform?
Bou: Facebook is still one of the fastest-growing videogame platforms in the world. With more than 250 million people playing games on the social network every month, it is undoubtedly a viable platform. We have seen games grow from the ground to more than four to five million DAU like Dragon City or Criminal Case.
Facebook is working to improve the user’s game experience as much as they can, and obviously only great games that are able to really engage their users succeed on Facebook. Without a doubt, if you want to offer the user a real social experience you have to be connected with Facebook.
As Facebook puts more emphasis on mobile, we are doing the same at Social Point, resulting in a full cross-platform experience that benefits all parties.
IMA: What are Social Point’s plans for the rest of 2013?
Bou: 2013 will be a very intense year for the company. Apart from the Android version of Dragon City, we are currently working on three new IPs, and all three of them will be launched on both Facebook and mobile. The games are focused on the mid-core audience, and we’re exploring new genres like RPG & RTS titles.
This quarter we will launch one new IP and bring two Facebook games onto mobile.
Also, we expect to continue growing our team from 140 to upwards of 180 by the end of this year. We have really challenging projects to build, and we need more talented people to achieve the company’s goals.