Core social game developer Plarium has seen a lot of growth over the past four months, following the launch of its popular fantasy-themed strategy title, Stormfall: Age of War. Since November, the game’s regularly appeared on our gainers lists and it’s now one of the top 200 apps both in terms of monthly and daily active users. We recently had an opportunity to talk with Plarium Co-Founder and VP of Marketing Gabi Shalel about his company’s history, its recent success and what the next year holds for the developer.
Plarium’s was founded in 2009, an era Shalel describes as “the peak of social games.” Prior to this, some of Plarium’s six co-founders were involved in creating 3D downloadable games; the founders wanted to make core games on social platforms, something that was all but unheard of at the time. Since then, midcore games have become much talked-about among social and mobile developers, with companies like Kixeye and Kabam serving as examples of how profitable these games can be.
“We realized that in order to be a global company, we needed to create content that doesn’t exist on these platforms and we thought of going into hardcore games because we’re very passionate about them,” he explains.
Since that time, Plarium’s launched three core strategy titles: Total Domination, Pirates: Tides of Fortune and the aforementioned Stormfall. Our traffic-tracking service AppData shows the first two games are thriving (both sit in the 100,000 DAU tier on Facebook), but Shalel confirms Stormfall is the developer’s most successful game with over 5 million players on Facebook; aside from that impressive total, Shalel tells us Stormfall is growing by 100,000 users each day.
As is often the case with core games on social platforms, we’re told Plarium’s titles are currently seeing high levels of monetization. According to Shalel, Stormfall’s average revenue per daily active user is up to 10 times the amount seen in “the average castle/citybuilder games,” and the number is continuing to climb. Even though Stormfall’s only been online for a few months, it’s already Plarium’s most profitable game, with the majority of revenue coming from Facebook. Outside of Facebook, Shalel says the game’s the next most profitable on Russian social network Odnoklassniki, though he admits revenue on Facebook “far outweighs” this platform.
“The major change in 2012 for us was moving away from just being an Eastern European-focused company,” he says. “Most of our revenue these days comes from Facebook.”
The largest expenditure of hard currency in the game is on units, but Shalel tells us he believes the average revenue per user continues to grow because Plarium stays so engaged with its players and listens to what they want in the game. “If you take Total Domination and compare it to the game it was when we launched it, it’s completely different,” he explains. “We always listen to our users, listen to their feedback, and implement what they want. For us the life of the game starts once we launch it. Many developers have this attitude of ‘let’s put the game up and see how it does.’ We’re completely the opposite of that. We’re very long-term focused.”
Stormfall’s largest audience is in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany. Part of this success in Western markets is due to the game’s localization, which includes languages (aside from English) like German, Spanish, Russian and Italian. That said, Plarium doesn’t have any plans to physically move into the West, even though the company is planning to add another 150 staffers to its already sizable ranks of 300 people.
At the moment, Plarium has three offices between its headquarters in Israel and two other studios located in the Ukraine. However, in spite of the game’s sizable North American audience, Shalel says he considers not having an office in the San Francisco Bay Area an advantage, allowing Plarium to scale up its operations much faster than it could in California, where there’s a substantial amount of competition to hire technical talent.
The next big move for Plarium , we’re told, will see the company moving onto mobile devices. Although Shalel can’t go into much detail right now, he tells us his company is going to be focused on bringing its games to iOS first. Although a definite date hasn’t been revealed yet, Shalel Plarium will begin launching mobile games sometime this year.
“We want to perfect the experience,” he says. “We don’t want to jump from platform to platform just for the sake of it.”