Inside Social Apps 2010: Social Gaming’s Expansion in East Asia and Around the World

We had a strong international showing today at our Inside Social Apps 2010 conference, and this included leading developers coming out of China. As Facebook has grown around the world, social games on its platform have also spread. The example of their success has in turn inspired other social networks to open up their platforms to developers, notably happening on Mixi in Japan and RenRen in China.

We examined how developers are building businesses around the world in the “Thinking Globally: How to Monetize International Audiences” panel.

Here’s who was on it:
Rex Ng, CEO, 6 waves
Season Xu, Co-founder and COO, Five Minutes
Patrick Liu, Rekoo
Ron Hirson, Co-founder and SVP Product, Boku
Benjamin Joffe, Founder, +8* (Moderator)

And here are our highlights. Note: You can check out tweets from this and other conference sessions via the #isa2010 hashtag on Twitter.

Joffe: Can you start out by telling us more about your companies and were you focus.

Ng: We’re active around the world on Facebook, in every region.

Xu: Around one-eighth of our users are on Facebook, but that’s where we get 50% of our revenue; also, 80% of our Facebook users are Taiwanese.

Liu: We’re the top social game developer Japan, South Korea and China. We’ve launched on Facebook but we’re still not very big, with around 1.6 million monthly active users.

Hirson: Boku is live in 60 countries, with revenue coming from around the world.

Joffe: You’re all working in multiple countries. How did you pick the markets you expanded to?

Hirson: We went for merchants looking for traction on social networks. We looked at top 5 social networks, countries, mobile phone penetration and data usage, and compared that to credit card penetatration. Many countries don’t have good penetration. In some countries, we see mobile payments as the primary method that people pay. The US ends up being about one third of our payment revenue, then a third in Europe and a third from the rest of the world. That’s because of the spending power of Europe and America. But in Asia the amount per person is low but the volume is high because there are so many people.

Joffe: Patrick, you said you were the number one social gaming company in Korea and Japan.

Liu: We launched in China and decided to try Japan and South Korea, and now Russia, too. Second half of 2009 we came to Facebook. We made lots of changes for Western users. Japan is a pretty good market, but the barriers are extremely high. South Korea, too.

Joffe: How did you decide to address those options?

Liu: In the beginning we didn’t know, we just wanted to try. My first venture was a social network company in China in 2004 and 2005. I got to know Mixi in Japan. I saw the evolution of Facebook. I got to know Cyworld in South Korea, I thought, well, we have a product right here. Let’s try. In Japan we had to do a lot of changeover.

Joffe: If I remember you had a little help from local partners and investors.

Liu: In fact that’s not correct. In the very beginning, nobody helped us. But I happened to know some people, I asked the Mixi platform — can you get the foreign company in? Of course they said, but we went through lots of efforts. From the first day we launched our product in Q4 of last year. But after the first week, we had all viral growth, we grew so fast, that the platform said great job.