Kongregate pledges $10M towards mobile gaming, former Zynga VP heading mobile division

This morning, online gaming platform Kongregate revealed it’s getting in on mobile in a very big way.

The company announced the launch of the Kongregate Mobile Developers program, a $10 million fund that will help indie game developers working on free-to-play mobile titles. Kongregate’s parent company (and massive brick and mortar retail chain) GameStop will back the platform as it offers distribution, financial, consulting and marketing assistance to the developers taking part in the mobile program.

The assistance being offered in the newly-launched mobile program is expansive. According to Kongregate, games already in development can qualify to earn cash advances in order to cover final build and integration expenses. The company will also provide free consultation with developers about monetization; the company says it will also have creative services, quality assurance, gameplay testing and competitive research to offer developers. Kongregate also says it will manage paid ad campaigns for selected titles on thir-party networks, handle PR and work with various app stores to get partner games featured.

We’re told many of these services will be available in certain amounts based on a tiered partnership, similar to how Kongregate works with developers on its web platform (with more services and marketing assistance available based on different revenue splits for a game). However, Kongregate Co-Founder Emily Greer explains to us this won’t be apparent at first because Kongregate will be working mainly with developers who will receive top-tier treatment from the getgo, with each case being tailored to a specific game.

“There’s a pretty big diffference between what we’re doing on mobile and what we’re doing on web,” she explains. “On the web, we’re an open platform, so any game can come to it. When we’re talking about three tiers, we’re talking about what everybody comes in on and then the couple of tiers we do for the games we’re focusing on and want to promote. We’re focusing on quality, not quantity, on mobile. We’re starting with the upper tiers, where everybody gets a high level of service and promotion.”

Qualified games will also be able to receive promotion across a number of platforms, like Kongregate itself, GameStop’s iOS and Android apps as well as GameStop online destinations (including email, websites and social media outreach). The promotion part of the deal could likely prove even more tempting for developers than the money involved in the Kongregate Mobile Developers program, since these combined online presences reach over 50 million core gamers. Additionally, Kongregate tells us selected games will receive exposure in GameStop’s 6,600 retail stores across the globe.

Kongregate also revealed today that it’s hired former Zynga GM Panayoti (Pany) Haritatos to serve as the VP of its new mobile division. Aside from overseeing the mobile games unit, Haritatos will also lead the company’s in-house game development division. Kongregate already has some developers interested in the program, mainly web partners who are looking to get in on the mobile side of the games industry. According to Haritatos, many of Kongregate’s partners are interested in mobile platforms and have already been asking the company for advice on breaking into the market.

“In the last year, we’ve seen massive growth on mobile. Even though Kongregate on the web is still growing, we’re seeing a shift from a lot of these developers to mobile,” he explains. “They’ve been coming to us and asking ‘how do we get on mobile’, ‘are you on mobile’ and ‘can you help us get on mobile’.”

“There’s a segment of independent developers who aren’t getting the support they need from publishers,” he further notes. “This is a great opportunity to come in and provide publishing support to those developers who are sorely in need of help in order to compete in today’s mobile marketplace.”

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