Kobojo Opens Berlin Office, Preps New Game Lineup for Facebook and Mobile

PyramidVille developer Kobojo has had a busy December, balancing launching a new Facebook game with opening a new international office in Berlin. The French developer now faces the challenge of growing its core audience in multiple languages and on smartphones with its first standalone mobile game launching in early 2012.

Back in April, the developer closed a €5.3 million ($7.5 million) first round of funding from investors Endeavour Vision and IDinvest Partners (formerly AGF Private Equity). At that time, the developer was relatively new to the social game industry and one of only a handful of European developers producing games in English for the Facebook audience. Kobojo told us that it intended to put the funding toward regional branches, accelerated growth on the Facebook platform, and possible cross-platform releases for its key franchises.

So far, Kobojo has opened offices and Madrid and Berlin, and through these regional branches, the developer hopes to produce hyper-localized and adapted versions of its games for audiences in Europe and Latin America. Its newest Facebook game, Atlantis Fantasy (pictured below), soft-launched in English, French, and Spanish a week or so ago and will go live in Brazilian Portuguese, German, and Italian in the next week. As we’ve seen with other social game developers’ launch strategies, multiple languages is key to gaining traction quickly on Facebook.

As for mobile and cross-platform offerings, Kobojo is looking to produce the majority of its 2012 lineup on Facebook with fewer releases for mobile. A mobile version of PyramidVille — Kobojo’s largest Facebook game — is set for the first quarter of the calendar year. Kobojo’s Vincent Vergonjeanne, VP product and strategy, tells us that the company has an aggressive development cycle of between 3 and 5 months — with a solid month of that given over to beta testing. By investing in research and development, Kobojo hopes to reduce the amount of time it takes to expand a game off of Facebook and onto mobile or other platforms.

“[HTML5] is an interesting area [for] R&D,” Vergonjeanne tells us. “The fact that all three — Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft —  are pushing for it make it a trend for 2012 and 2013, but it’s still an early stage technology. We still think it’s too early, but we’re putting some R&D on the technology.”

Kobojo’s main franchise is GooBox, a casual games portal that runs as a Facebook app, a Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 app, and now as an iOS app with both iPad and iPhone-specific games. The games available on the service range from match-3 style arcade titles to mazes and word puzzles. On Facebook alone, the portal is available in five languages and accounts for just over 50% of the developer’s total monthly active user count across all its games. Vergonjeanne says that Kobojo’s core audience is currently 70% female and just 30% male, which is why its held back from exploring Google+ as a potential platform for its games.

“Google+ is more competition for Facebook and more diversity for us,” he says. “It’s early adopters are for a more male crowd, so our demographics are not a perfect match. We’re keeping an eye on it, but it’s more for Q2 or Q3 of 2012.”

A new direction with which the developer is experimenting involves increasing the amount of strategy within their games. Atlantis Fantasy, for example, makes use of a worker mechanic similar to Trade Nations or Smurf’s Village on iOS that limits the amount of structures a player can build and maintain at one time. Players can also choose to spend their own energy accelerating build times, as opposed to spending virtual currency.

Kobojo currently enjoys 2.3 million monthly active users and over 445,000 daily active users on Facebook, according to our AppData traffic tracking service.