Mobile advertising and publishing platform Tapjoy today announced a partnership with South Korea’s largest social mobile platform Kakao, which will allow developers on the Kakao Games platform to monetize with Tapjoy’s advertising and monetization tools.
The Kakao Games platform allows users to play with KakaoTalk users, share game scores, and compete on leaderboards in real-time. Games on the platform now gross more than $40 million per month, the company revealed in a statment.
In March, Tapjoy revealed that approximately 100 million unique viewers who come through its network per month are international, which equates to about 75 percent of its overall unique viewers per month coming from outside the U.S.
The partnership provides Tapjoy the opportunity to deliver premium content within titles on the Kakao Games platform.
KakaoTalk currently has more than 90 million users around the globe, more than 30 million users visiting the platform every day and is South Korea’s practically ubiquitous mobile messaging app. SundayToz was the first developer to get its match-3 puzzler Anipang on KakaoTalk’s game platform. At GDC 2013, SundayToz founder and CEO Kevin Lee told us he spoke with the founder of Kakao, and proposed the idea to turn the messenger app into a game platform, which led to the launch of Anipang for Kakao. Today, Anipang is generating around $500,000 in revenue a day.
Recently, KakaoTalk also demonstrated growth outside of its native South Korea by surpassing the 10 million download mark in Japan on March 24.
Finnish mobile game developer and creator of Angry Birds Rovio Entertainment announced the launch of its third-party mobile game publishing initiative, Rovio Stars.
Icerbreaker: A Viking Voyage by developer Nitrome will be the first game published under the Rovio Stars Program, followed by Spanish developer 5 Ants’ stealth puzzle game, Tiny Thief.
Many mobile game developers like Pocket Gems, Zynga, and Kabam have launched their own third-party publishing programs recently, and we’ve heard rumors Rovio would launch a similar program for a while. In January, PocketGamer.biz all but confirmed the program’s existance when it reported that 5 Ants had been signed with Rovio but at the time we weren’t certian that this was not a talent acquisition.
“Rovio Entertainment has positioned itself as one of the powerhouses of mobile entertainment, so moving into publishing is a logical step for us at this point”, Rovio’s executive vice president of games Jami Laes said in a statment. “We want to help our fans find quality entertainment among the more than 100,000 games available in app stores. That’s where Rovio Stars comes in.”
Games that leverage Rovio’s Angry Birds brand are immensely successful, with titles showing up at the top of our weekly charts regularly, but the developer’s more recent titles based on new IP have struggled. Amazing Alex, Rovio’s first new IP after Angry Birds, is currently the No. 258 top paid app in the games genre according to traffic tracking service AppData. The Croods, based on the DreamWorks animated motion picture, is currently the No. 247 top grossing app in the games genre.
Rovio said that Icerbreaker: A Viking Voyage is “coming soon” to iOS. Check back in with Inside Social Games for our full review.
Social games developer and publisher Zynga today announced the release of its seventh game under the “With Friends” brand, an endless runner titled Running With Friends. The game should be available to download for free from the Apple App Store starting tonight and tomorrow morning.
Set in a cartoon-style re-imagining of Pamplona, Spain, the game puts players into the town’s famous Running of the Bulls Festival. Gameplay is very similar to Temple Run, Vector, Subway Surfers, and other games in the endless runner genre. It’s particular similar to the latter in that the device is oriented vertically, with the camera behind the character, allowing the player to swipe and tap in order to dodge obstacles across three lanes.
While it may be similar to other endless runners, Running With Friends is also adding several new features to the formula to keep it fresh. The social element of games has always been Zynga’s primary concern and Running With Friends is no different, allowing users to do as the title suggests and play with their friends asynchronously. The level for each round of the game is randomly generated, but players who compete with friends will compete over the same randomly generated level. The player who gets the highest score by running farther and collecting more stars, wins.
Zynga today revealed its newest core game title, Solstice Arena, a multiplayer online battle arena game for mobile devices from the A Bit Lucky team.
A Bit Lucky is the developer behind games like Lucky Train and Lucky Space, which were shut down on Facebook in September 2012 while the studio continued to work on Solstice Arena. When Zynga acquired the studio, also in September 2012, A Bit Lucky’s employees became a part of Zynga San Francisco and continued to work on Solstice Arena, though little was known about the game at the time.
Today we finally learned that Solstice Arena is a MOBA game, a genre that originated with the popular mod Defense of the Ancients (DotA) for Blizzard’s PC and Mac strategy game Warcraft 3.
Yesterday, during Zynga’s Q1 2013 earning call, CEP Mark Pincus announced the launch of Draw Something 2. The game is available to download for free exclusively on the Apple App Store. An Android version is coming soon.
The first Draw Something was a simple draw-and-guess game where players compete against each other to create pictures based on stimulus words. The game won the award for Best Social Network Game at last night’s Game Developer’s Choice Online Awards ceremony. It was the first time Zynga managed to take home a GDC Online Award, even though its games have been nominated for the past two years.
Draw Something 2 introduces a live feed where players can share, ‘like’ or comment on drawings, and follow friends, artists and celebrities. It also adds a collection of new drawing tools like new patterns, textures and colors.
Apple announced on its earning call today that the Apple App Store has now paid out $9 billion to developers. This means that the Apple App Store has earned a total of $12.8 billion over its lifetime, with Apple earning $3.8 billion from a 30 percent cut of sales. Apple also shared that $4.5 billion of that amount was gained in the last four quarters alone. This means that Apple now pays developers over $billion per quarter.
The Apple App Store, available in 155 countries, now hosts more than 850,000 iOS apps and 350,000 dedicated iPad apps, adding 50,000 apps since Apple’s last reported figure from its earnings report in January.
The App Store, which exceeded 40 billion downloads in the last fiscal quarter, has now reached 45 billion downloads, meaning it now sees a staggering 800 app downloads per second.
Full-service Chinese mobile games publisher Yodo1 announced it has secured $5 million in Series A Funding. The round was led by SingTel Group with additional funding from original investor Chang You Fund.
Yodo1 CEO Henry Fong said in a statement that the main challenge for the company now is keeping up with Western developers eager to join its roster of partners. For this reason, the new funding will be used to expand Yodo1′s production capacity to work with more Western game companies and build the company’s platform and production team.
Yodo1, which came out of stealth in June 2012 with $2 million in seed funding, helps its publishing partners crack the Chinese market by focusing on app store distribution, social distribution, payments and advertising. Yodo1 also does a deep dive into the localization process with a fully-staffed studio of artists and developers who work with Western partners to adapt their games to Chinese tastes.
Social game distribution and monetization company PapayaMobile announced the launch of a new SDK to help independent Android developers access the Chinese mobile market.
The first free game with in-app purchases to launch in China using the new SDK will be Scottish developer Cobra Mobile’s WW2 shooter iBomber for Android.
The PapayaMobile SDK helps Android app and game developers monetize by plugging into the company’s cross-promotion and ad network AppFlood, where they can buy, sell or exchange ads and traffic with advertisers and other publishers.
More importantly, the SDK also plugs into China Mobile, China’s biggest mobile operator with more than 700 million subscribers, to allow for in-app purchasing via carrier billing.
Carrier billing is tremendously important if not absolutely necessary in order to monetize in the Chinese market. In November 2012, CocoaChina’s US GM Lei Zhang Zhang told us that carrier billing accounted for 90 percent of Fishing Joy 2’s total revenue of $1.6 million per month. At the 2013 Game Developers Conference Yodo1’s CEO Henry Fong told us that there may be other companies that are able to push games and apps to the many Android app stores in China, but that only those with standing deals with the mobile carriers and access to carrier billing will be able to monetize.
The official release from PapayaMobile claims that the company is taking the lead in opening up the Chinese market to Western developers, but in reality they are already in competition with big and established players such as the aforementioned Yodo1 (which also offers important localization services), InMobi’s App Publish distribution platform which can push an app or game to more than 130 Android app stores in a few clicks, and others.
Full-service Chinese mobile games publisher Yodo1 revealed a social games platform it plans to launch in Western markets. The platform, titled Kryptanium, allows developers to add social and cross-promotional features into every game, including single-player games, with an API.
The Kryptanium platform emerged naturally out of Yodo1’s localization and publishing business, helping Western developers monetize their games in China. In Western markets, social networks like Twitter and Facebook are invaluable tools to developers for marketing their games, and can, in the best cases, have a viral affect. But this is much harder to achieve in China where Google, Twitter and Facebook are blocked.
Kryptanium aims to solve this problem by integrating with the popular alternatives to Facebook in China (Sina Weibo, QQ and Tencent Weibo) and pulling them all to one platform which can then cross-promote to a large audience. An added benefit to the platform is that the user can interact with the platform, tap on cross-promotions and download new games all without exiting their current game session. “Never leave the game,” is the guiding philosophy, Yodo1’s vice president and lead on Kryptanium Spencer Liu told us. “When the developers we work with saw Kryptanium in action, the response was very enthusiastic. They asked us how they can use it, right now and in the U.S.”
Read the rest on our sister site Inside Social Games.
Zynga’s latest publishing partner is Elite Beat Agents developer iNis, which is getting ready to launch its new mobile title Eden to Green on Zynga’s network.
The game’s story takes place on a world inhabited by sentient plants who find their planet under siege by a group of alien machines. After devastating the planet, the machines begin to get beaten back by a group of plants focused on restoring nature around the world.
iNis is best known in the U.S. for its rhythm game for the Nintendo DS handheld device, Elite Beat Agents, which released in 2006. The developer has worked on other music games since, and even made a couple of forays to smartphones in partnership with Square Enix, with Demon’s Score and Symphonica. But with Zynga’s powerful cross-promotion tools behind it, Eden to Green is likely to make iNis more visible than it’s been in years.