MindJolt Makes Good on Mobile Aspirations With SGN, Looks to Create Critical Mass of Users

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By AJ Glasser Comment

MindJolt, the casual-social gaming company run by former MySpace chief executive Chris DeWolfe, announces a new string of games today along with the news that the company has successfully transitioned its business model from advertising to virtual goods.

The announcement comes roughly five months after MindJolt acquired social mobile game company Social Gaming Network (SGN) and free online game network Hallpass Media. At that time, MindJolt was very clearly activating on DeWolfe’s strategy to expand off of Facebook onto mobile and open web platforms. The acquisitions also helped MindJolt bring much of its game development in-house, effectively educating the company on how monetize games through virtual goods sales as opposed to advertising.

The result, DeWolfe tells us today, is a successful pivot into a new business model with virtual goods now making up one-third of MindJolt’s revenues. Though he declines to give specific numbers, he confirms that annual revenues are in the tens-of-millions and expected to exceed the $20 million figure reported in November 2010. Since April of this year, the company has released or re-launched a handful of games on iOS, including Warp Dash, Master Shot, Dress-up – Fashion, and Mini Cafe.

In the next few months, we can expect to see seven new games out of MindJolt, the first of which DeWolfe says is coming to iOS in as few as a couple of weeks. The upcoming titles include Fluff Friends – Races, Bird’s the Word, and another game inspired by DressUp, which was a web game bought by MindJolt as part of the Hallpass Media acquisition.

The big challenge now will be tackling cross-platform releases, a task many social and mobile game developers struggle with. Currently, MindJolt is building native apps for each platform — web, Facebook, iOS and, eventually, Android — with only very light integration between games of the same franchise via Facebook Connect. The games essentially look and play the same on each platform, however, and DeWolfe says that this is helpful when it comes to promoting games cross-platform.

Another component of the cross-platform challenge is creating a critical mass of users that support the MindJolt brand. As of right now, the company says it has a pool of over 30 million mobile installs, over 70 million social platform installs on social platforms, and over 25 million unique monthly active users on the web. Moving eyeballs between these platforms is crucial in supporting new game launches — as other cross-platform developers like OMGPOP have experienced when shifting audiences between Facebook and iOS.

“We’re getting a trememndous amount of traffic and downloads from web,” DeWolfe says. “It doesn’t usually work to advertise something on the web and then have people go through the friction of the iTunes store, downloading, and then picking up their device and actually using it.” The near-identical appearance of the apps, he says, reduces the friction.

Going forward, MindJolt is also releasing its first in-house developed Facebook game today, titled Bubble Atlantis. Though still integrating the teams at SGN and Hallpass Media, DeWolfe tells us that the company is still “opportunistically” looking for game developer talent acquisitions or second-party partnerships. After successfully beefing up its mobile business, the bar is now higher for what MindJolt can do on social network game platforms and on open web.

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