In the first year after the Facebook Platform launched in May 2007, most investment came from developers based in the US. However, as Facebook’s international audience has continued to skyrocket since then, more developers have surfaced in Asia and Europe to better serve users around the world.
For example, Hong Kong-based 6 waves has had much success internationalizing several of the most popular types of Facebook games, and independent studios like Singapore-based Tyler Projects have built small businesses serving global audiences.
However, more recently, I’ve started to see another interesting trend: some of the top developers on popular Chinese social platforms are starting to invest in building Facebook apps. For example, Five Minutes, the developer of Happy Farm, the most popular app in China, has recently launched an app on Facebook that already has nearly 1.7 million users. In addition, one of the largest independent game developers on Facebook these days is said to be funded by a top Chinese app developer as well.
Inside Facebook today spoke with Gareth Davis, Facebook’s platform manager for games, and asked him about this topic specifically. Here’s what Davis said:
There are a number of game developers from Asia who I interact with who are very interested in moving their titles to Facebook due to the restrictions and constraints of other social platforms in China – they’re not open platforms. With the rise of the Facebook Platform, we’ve become a very open option for them.
The Chinese developers are very talented and know great games, and I expect to see a lot of great games coming out of China. For example, I think Playfish’s Geo Challenge and Country Story came out of their Chinese studio. CMUNE (developers of Paradise Paintball) are based in China as well.
We have seen significant audience growth in farming games over the last six months. There are a few interesting mechanics – a nurturing aspect, you design something, it grows over time. It’s almost like a virtual pet Tamagotchi-esque experience. Gifting is a big part of it, as is helping out on each other’s farms, and trading and gifting items. There are many examples of successful management games across a variety of platforms – RollerCoaster Tycoon was huge for many years on the PC.
The lack of openness Davis is referring to is explained more in another Inside Facebook piece called Why Hasn’t Facebook Grown More in China? The most popular social platforms in China like Xiaonei, Kaixin, 51.com, and Qzone are generally very closed systems, an important reason many highly skilled developers are interested in looking to Facebook. With to the growth of the free to play virtual goods model that’s happening this year in the US, many of the fundamental monetization mechanics required to succeed on the Facebook Platform are very similar to games that have thrived in China for years.
Do you know of more Chinese or Asian developers moving onto Facebook? Let us know at mail AT insidesocialgames DOT com.