Games portal and publisher Spil Games wants to be an alternative for social game developers looking to expand off of Facebook, where rising advertising costs have cut into profits.
Speaking to Inside Social Games, Spil Games’ CEO Peter Driessen (pictured) explains that the portal — which consists of several games sites — spent the last several months adding social features that enable developers to use engagement-driving gameplay mechanics like friend invites or gifting within their games. The result is continued year-on-year growth for the portal; monthly unique users grew by 30 percent between March and December 2011. The portal now has 170 million monthly unique visitors. Based on internal research, Spil reports that average user time spent on a site within the portal is around 85 minutes with average revenue per paying user hitting $60 in some markets. Though Driessen declined to get more specific than that, additional data sent to us by Spil Games indicates that those same markets saw conversion rates of around 4 percent.
The point Spil Games is trying to make is that there are other platforms out there for social games besides Facebook and Google+. The more closely these platforms resemble the social network, the easier it is for developers to adapt their games for release. The real challenge comes from finding which platforms will reach with the demographics that sync up with a game. Though Spil is mostly female- and teen-oriented, the company has seen success with a family demographic and a budding male demographic based largely in Germany — where the higher ARPPU and conversion rates are.
“The users we have are growing as local networks are declining,” Driessen says. “So we’re at the right point of time to make ourselves a success and go above 200 million users this year.”
According to Driessen, a good game live on Spil Games’ network with a team handling community management and post-launch support can gross at least $5 million annually. That’s not a lot for established social game developers, but smaller independent developers would be lucky to see that much in a year from a single title on Facebook given the current platform environment. As of press time, we don’t know how well that stacks up against what individual games can earn on Google+.
“We do the marketing and a revenue share and that’s the way it is [on Spil],” says Driessen. “On Facebook, you have to buy the marketing and that’s why some developers don’t make any money. If [we see] a social game that we really believe in, we give it a good place on our portal and really market it. Also, we do the localization and community management for these developers so they don’t have to spend resources.”