The CEO of Spil Games Talks Localization, Monetization and the Future of Gaming [Interview]

Spil Games, creators of casual and social games for all ages, is one of the top 60 most-visited web properties in the world. We had the opportunity to talk with Peter Driessen, the CEO of Spil Games, about what makes his games social, how localization tailors the gaming experience to the user, and what he sees as the most influential factor in the future of casual online gaming.

Spil Games, creators of localized social-gaming platforms, entertains 130 million unique visitors each month. They have a unique take on gaming, offering casual, social games tailored to specific demographics, such as girls, teens and families. With over 4,000 games across their network, Spil Games is a leader in the social gaming space. We had the opportunity to talk with Peter Driessen, the CEO of Spil Games, about what makes his games social, how localization tailors the gaming experience to the user, and what he sees as the most influential factor in the future of casual online gaming.

Our readers would love to hear about the social elements in your games. Can you describe some of the main social features you’ve implemented thus far? Do you have any plans for implementing social features in the future?

In 2010 we implemented an extensive amount of social elements in our games to enable our players to connect and challenge themselves or each other. The social elements also allow players to express their creativity. Some of these social elements include:

  • Create profile
  • Facebook Connect
  • Create avatar
  • Make friends
  • Post friend messages
  • Real (Facebook) friends
  • Win awards
  • Set high scores
  • Save favorite games
  • Have a voice (comments)
  • Activities & Notifications
  • Make album with creations

We’re definitely launching more this year. We’ll keep you posted!

You localize some of your gaming properties – targeting them towards girls or families, for instance. How do these properties compare to more general “gaming” websites? What benefits have you seen from creating these distinct entities?

We offer a global network of online social-gaming platforms tailored to girls (e.g., GirlsgoGames.com), teens (e.g., Agame.com), and families (e.g., Gamesgames.com). These are localized into 19 languages and entertain 130 million unique visitors every month. What makes these properties unique comes from the fact that our target groups find games, content and features that meets the unique differences, needs, wants and interests that apply to them. For instance, we know from extensive research and player feedback that girls are more interested in games that help them experience their “future life” through fun role play, while women likes to take time for themselves, with puzzles and time-management games dominating their playing behavior. We ensure that our gaming sites have content that meet these different needs. This is something that drives us every day.

Also, the fact that we fully localize our sites (ensuring translations meet cultural sensitivities) continues to ensure we attract audiences to our sites. With 130 million unique visitors the benefit for us includes the fact that according to Commscore comScore we are ranked as one of the top 60 most‐visited online properties in the world.

How do you monetize your gaming properties?

Approximately 70% of our revenue is generated through advertising; the rest through end-user monetization and partnerships.

Can you tell us about your gaming application, Zapapa? What social networks is this integrated into? Can you share some stats about gamers on this application versus your website properties?

Zapapa is our application for social networks and consists of multiplayer and single player games. We launched it on the leading Dutch social network site, Hyves where it is played by 70% of the Hyves audience. Zapapa is also on the German social network VZ Networks, as well as Facebook.

One of the unique things about Zapapa are the realtime multiplayer games where players can play with or compete against friends or other users in real time, playing cooperatively or challenging them to beat their high scores. It’s not just about viral single play experience.

You recently released some interesting statistics about the State of Gaming in 2010. Can you make any predictions for 2011 in terms of casual and social gaming?

The potential of HTML5 for mobile gaming will continue to become a reality. HTML5 will free up developers by saving them the time and money they currently lose modifying games for different mobile platforms. Additionally, players will no longer be forced to download a game from app stores. They will be able to instantly play games through their mobile browser whenever and on whichever mobile platform they choose, without any installation hassles.