Liveblogging Inside Social Apps: Facebook, Apple, Google and in 2012

We’re at the San Francisco Design center, blogging Inside Network’s third annual Inside Social Apps conference.

The event kicks off with “Facebook, Apple, Google: Which Platform(s) Hold the Most Opportunity in 2012?” Joining moderator Eric Eldon on stage are wooga founder and CEO Jens Begemann, Kabam founder and CEO Kevin Chou, Funzio and Storm 8 co-founder Anil Dharni and Disney Interactive Senior VP of Social Games John Spinale.

What follows is a paraphrased transcript of the panel.

Eric: Let’s talk about what’s going on with Facebook. Jens, let’s start with you — you’re still focused on Facebook.

Jens: We’re very happy with Facebook. If I look at our four largest games, we had our all time highs last week and some of these games are two years old. We have three times as many users as we had a year ago. If you really focus on the platform and you really focus on having a great user experience. For us, it’s really most organic. Advertising is roughly 5% of new users for us. 40% is viral and 55% is through cross promotion.

Kevin: I think Jens’ experience is a unique. I think looking at the platform for the past few months, advertising costs have gone up 18% and virality is kind of a black box to developers in general. We’re still very excited about Facebook and we continue to work with them, but they’re just starting to learn — they’re really two quarters in with learning how Facebook Credits factors into the developer’s experience. When we implemented Credits, we though conversion would go up 15 to 20%, but I think FB Credits has helped maybe 5%.

John: It is pretty similar for us. At the end of the day, having a unified currency that’s easy for people to understand — I think they made a good choice, but it was a drag on the system. For us it’s less about DAUs and MAUs, it’s more about monetization. While we have a different experience than Jens here where we have to incent our user base to grow, we’ve gotten very good at figuring out how to get people to pay and how to use existing channels.

Anil: There is no clear roadmap on how Facebook is thinking about the viral channels. It’s not clear what channels will exist tomorrow and how they will change today. That’s a growing challenge for us and I’m actually hoping there’s more solidificaiton that they talk about here at ISA. As far as FB Credits, I think it’s a wash out. We saw increased conversion rates, but a gradual decrease in average revenue per paying users. It’s hard to know why, but for games with whales, we see that people just like credit cards and PayPal better than these 99 cent purchases. The percentage of users that are paying are increasing, but total volume has decline.

Jens: We’ve been with Credits since day one, so we can’t really compare. We don’t see negative trends because we can’t compare the pre-Credits revenue to post. I think we should appreciate that the Facebook platform is completely free and only if you make revenue will you do a 30% revenue share and I’ve not heard anybody complain about Apple for their revenue share. It’s apples to apples with Facebook. You get distribution and other things — and only if you’re successful do you give to FB.

Kevin: We’re really excited about mobile. On the web, we have converted more users to paying. On mobile, we’re getting well above the conversion that we see on Facebook. More people have historic credit cards on file, so there’s less friction. But Apple provides less than Facebook.