gfgThis week the Game Forum Germany in Hannover takes place and I have been invited there to speak about the Free to Play games market in Europe. That’s a topic I have spoken about a lot in the past year and anyone familiar with this blog has seen an iteration of that presentation. I will still put it here, as each iteration as its own flavour and set of data.

If you want to meet over there, please feel free to drop me a line through the contact page:

twitterbirdIf you’re doing community work or marketing on behalf of an MMO or other type of online game, you’ve probably already discovered twitter as a tool for reaching your players. Whether you’re just starting out or already managing an account, we’ve come up with a short list of things to think about when planning a twitter strategy for your game. Off we go… Read more

chainIt’s well known that online games have been shortening the value chain, threatening the roles of middlemen such as publishers, distributors and retailers, and enabling developers to get in direct contact with players. However, as some very interesting discussions pointed out a few months ago, acquiring users (call it marketing, or traffic acquisition) is hard and expensive, which lends considerable power to other actors in the chain, such as:

  • Digital distribution sites, like Steam
  • Platform managers
  • Aggregators, like Miniclip
  • Community and media websites
  • Ad networks
  • SEO-savvy “gateway” portals (MMO lists, etc)

Channels like these have grown greatly in influence, and the conditions of working with the most prominent ones are becoming increasingly expensive (some of the biggest aggregators now ask for either lots of cash, or equity). Read more

collectiblesAs micro-payments rapidly become the mainstream model for most new online games,  there is a massive rise of business models offering collectible items. From games where the collectible elements are at the very center of the gameplay, like Magic The Gathering Online, PoxNora, Urban Rivals, Bella Sara, all the games from ChallengeGames,   the recent UpperDeckU and the upcoming BattleForge, to games having a “Gachapon” , lottery ticket or “Lucky box” feature offering collectibles added as an afterthought (MapleStory, ShotOnline, etc…), collections of items acquired through a random factor are flourishing and are on the way to becoming a must-have in any micro-payment system. SOE has invested in the model even before having micro-payment games, by acquiring Worlds Apart TCG studio in 2006, before launching an EverQuest 1 & 2 in-game CCG, Legends of Norrath. More recently, they acquired PoxNora developer Octopi, and seem to be introducing collectible elements in all their new games. It’s still a mystery why Nintendo has not released a truly online Pokemon game yet. Read more

xbox_360_liveGamasutra relays a report by Seattle Post that shows Microsoft numbers for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. The more recent figures are from February 2008, showing that 56% of all Live members were Gold (60% in the US). The percentage was actually down 4 points yoy.

At that time there were 10M announced Live members , so that was about 5.5M Gold subscribers – if the proportion was still the same today (it might have increased since thanks to the NXE, which has brought them 3M members since November 08) that would be 9.5M Gold subscribers (there are 17M Xbox Live members). According to the latest numbers on VGChartz there are 28.5 millions of Xbox 360 distributed worldwide -the total Live members accounts are about 60% of that. Read more

crystal_clear_app_internetAccording to a new Comscore study (users aged 15+, Dec 08 vs Dec 07). Good news for social games !

UK, Spain, Portugal, Denmark and Italy were the countries with the biggest penetration of social networking.

Also in the study : Facebook grew 443% in one year in France thanks to localization, and has now overtaken Skyrock.

The social networking landscape still remains pretty diverse in Europe – that isn’t shown in the study- but the overall usage is very high. For comparison, Emarketer recently published a similar study showing that the penetration rate was 41% in the US. That encompasses all year 2008 though, not just December as the Comscore figures.