SGS 2010: Is There Life Outside of Facebook?

internationalInternational opportunities in social gaming are increasing by the day. With Zynga threatening to leave Facebook, should others explore life outside of Facebook as well? How can developers leverage the experience and hard work of established companies in order to venture into foreign territory? Facebook’s international growth has inspired the likes of Mixi in Japan and RenRen in China to take a more open-platform approach to developers. In this panel, Kai Bolik of Gameduell, Arthur Chow of 6waves and Patrick Liu of Rekoo converged to discuss the feasibility of expansion opportunities for developers.

The panel happily disclosed their experience working with an international audience. Each company has its own strategy – some like Rekoo focus on creating games for multiple social networks to diversify and minimize risk; some are taking on a publisher model like 6waves; while some like GameDuell are focusing strongly on their own platform and keeping doors to others closed.

The United States continue to crank out universally appealing games, that can be localized with minimal efforts. Virality is also a hot topic, even outside of Facebook. Although the quality of the game play is ultimately the deciding factor, game developers are actively looking to optimize their user acquisition strategies. Some like 6Waves have even explored offline acquisition tactics on some occasions.

Monetization remains a challenge. There’s difficulties in currency conversion and localization when you are involved in an international marketplace. Developers continue to maximize their ARPU so they can invest in user acquisition. Investors now are also savvy and eyeing social gaming opportunities the way they see

Although Facebook remains the most important social network, it faces challenges in countries such as China. “To succeed in China, Facebook needs to create another instance of their social platform,” said Andy Tian of XFD Media. For those that can manage to get on to various platforms, culture will be an obstacle they have to tackle but with a nascent industry, success is still up for grab.