Resort World first launched on Orkut in February 2010 before migrating to Facebook in June through a publishing agreement with 6waves (now 6waves Lolapps). The beach resort industry sim is now available on 15 different social networks, including G+, and is Game Insight’s third-largest title on Facebook behind Big Business and Mystery Manor. Resort World is self-published on G+ by Game Insight.
Speaking to Inside Social Games, Game Insight VP of Business Development Darya Trushkina explains that G+ looks like it could be the next big platform for social games if growth increases and the Games platform finds traction.
“Google+ is a big deal right now in the market from our perspective,” she says. “ From what I know, it’s the fastest growing platform and hopefully it will remain on that path and become a competitor to Facebook.”
The key difference between Facebook and G+ Games at this point is in virality. Facebook relies on social discovery of new games via News feeds and the App Ticker and Games Ticker features while G+ breaks games off into its destination tab that encompasses all game-related invites and notifications as well as the games themselves. Neither Facebook nor G+ have publicly released data that could tell us how the different approaches do or do not user affect acquisition and retention.
“It’s a good filter for spamming,” Trushkina says. “From the virality point of view, that’s probably not the best for developers, but from the end user perspective, it’s a great thing because now you have this perfect environment where you can go choose from good games — because Google is very picky [during the submissions process]. So I can go there and I know that I don’t have to go through thousands of games to find something that I love.”
Not much has been said about how Google works with developers to launch social games. From what we and Game Insight both understand, the APIs are open to developers to experiment with — after which point, a developer can approach Google about launching a game for G+ Games.
“From what I know, Google choose the games that will be the most complimentary to their platform,” Trushkina explains. “We just pitched them with Resort World because there is no game like it there yet. It’s actually perfect because we can test the social network and see how it actually performs.”
Mystery Manor also would have been a good fit Google+ given the lack of competing hidden object games on the platform, she says. That game’s development team, however, is very focused on launching an iPad version before the end of November. After that point, G+ and perhaps an Android tablets maybe the next two markets Game Insight targets with the title. This comes as something of a surprise as Game Insight was previously exploring an Android-only mobile strategy when we last spoke with them. Trushkina says that although the developer continues to see success on Android with new games, Mystery Manor on iOS just seemed more attractive.
Interestingly, Trushkina explains that some platforms make for safe “test” environments before rolling a game onto a new platform. For social games, Game Insight uses VK.com as its guinea pig social network because the developer has a very clear understanding of the platform and its audience — which makes it easier to integrate player feedback in the first few weeks of launch. For mobile games, iOS maybe the safer route because the Apple approvals process buys the developer more time to polish the product.
“It makes it easier for us to fix bugs, see what people like and don’t like in terms of new features,” she says. “So we always release our games there first and then on Facebook and then on other social networks. On VK, you can polish a game [over time], where on Facebook it would fail right away. It’s the same with Android. On Android, it needs to be a perfect game because users get discouraged so easily and so fast, they almost never go back to a game even if you make it the best game on Earth after [launch]. The iOS approvals process helps out with this, but it makes [development cycles] a little different. Here you have up to three weeks to polish the product.”
As for future games, Game Insight is already testing Lords of Atlantis on VK with a possible Facebook launch in the works. Trushkina says it will be a couple more weeks before Game Insight makes a final decision on launching more titles for G+ — but a key component of that decision is whether or not the developer has games that Google wants on its platform. It’s also too soon to tell, she says, how average revenues per user stacks up on G+ compared to social networks.