Blogging Inside Social Apps: Emerging International Opportunities for Mobile and Social Developers

We’re at the San Francisco Design center, blogging Inside Network’s third annual Inside Social Apps conference.
Following a short afternoon break, we resumed with “Emerging International Opportunities for Mobile and Social Developers” moderated by AJ Glasser. She is joined by GREE’s VP Marketing, Social Games Sho Masuda, Popcap Games’ VP of Worldwide Publishing Dennis Ryan, Vostu’s Chief Scientist Mario Schlosser, and 6waves Lolapps’ Chief Product Officer Arjun Sethi.
The following is a paraphrased transcript of the discussion.
AJ: We’ll start by discussing the different regions that you’re seeing the most growth in. Where are the largest growth opportunities in your opinion?

Dennis: For us it’s where we’re investing. Three years ago our business outside the Americas was about 10 percent of our business and now it’s about 30 percent, particularly China and Japan. Not to see that other markets have less opportunities, but that’s were we chose to invest.

Arjun: We’ve always monetized in China and Japan. We recently went onto Tencent in China. On Facebook we’ve had a lot of luck in European countries, but Facebook is also growing in Japan. On Android and iOS we’ve see growth in China and Japan – downloads in China and revenues in Japan.

Mario: We’ve seen a lot of growth in Latin America.

Sho: For GREE we’ve seen new users coming from the US and the UK. We’ve seen growth in Korea and China. In terms of market revenues, the US is very important to us, but we’re focusing on a lot of regions.

AJ: So as developers are expanding internationally, how do you approach localization and forming a cultural relationship in each region?

Dennis: We take a country specific approach because we’re trying to build our brands as multi-platform experience. They’re on mobile, console, PC and mac and we try to invest where we can execute that strategy in its entirety.

Sho: We think of localization as making the content meaningful to a region, not just changing the language. We just signed a partnership with five companies. With our new platform, we know its difficult to launch in the Asian market. As a platform we need to provide solutions to help developers penetrate that market.

AJ: How do you choose North American partners?

Sho: We’re working with 2nd parties, like our acquisition of OpenFeint. we’re always looking for a partnership that will benefit both us and them.

AJ: What are some mistakes you’ve seen developers make when they take a game into an international market?

Arjun: Taking the approach that if a game is success on Facebook, you can just take the game into another country and just slap it in. It doesn’t work.

AJ: What about Plants vs. Zombies on Renren?

Dennis: I think we got 50% of that right. In China we decided to take a long term view — we build a studio there. That was right. Another thing we got right was we knew we needed to build a different game, so maybe we got more like 2/3 right. The game on Renren is more competitive and its got different monetization. That’s a start, but in the end it didn’t work on Renren. We and Renren both did a great job launching it and it started with 500,000 DAU but its deteriorated since launch, so at some level we know it’s not working. We haven’t given up.

AJ: What about your experience entering the US with games that were popular in Brazil and on Orkut?

Mario: It depends on the game. Our recent games have done better on Facebook. When you expand to a different country, I would almost look at the city level rather than a country level. 95 percent of viralization works on a city by city basis. In the US now, we don’t have a massive audience, so it’s hard to scale it. When we went into Argentina and Mexico we were able to jumpstart the audience by engaging local bloggers. The stuff we’re launching now we can put more hooks into.