SGS London: How Can A Small Games Developer Compete With Zynga?

A group of social gaming experts from OMGPOP, Applifier, ZSlide and Wooga addressed probing (to put it mildly) questions from Bret on Social Games about small and medium games developer strategies at this year’s Social Gaming Summit London.

Does advertising work? Wilson Kriegel from OMGPOP mentioned how advertising on Zynga is nearly impossible, and they’re looking for big brands only, it’s the only way you get in the door is to drop $1 million to try out their ads for a day. He compared it to MySpace, who also mined these extremely expensive advertising options to get the money as fast as possible. Bret Terill, formerly a Zynga corporate development guy and now blogger, laughed at the comparison between MySpace and Zynga.

Wilson revealed that their newest game will be released by the end of the year, bringing their Facebook game count to 2 after Cupcake Corner. “We tried to monetize casual multiplayer based games, and it just couldn’t monetize as well.” It’s a bit sad to hear that the great, quality content like the catalog can’t monetize as easily as the standard Restaurant World style game, and especially sad if it means that OMGPOP will lose a bit of resources. That said, the team emphasizes fun, new experiences and we hope to see interesting games coming around the corner.

Henric Suuronen from Wooga also let us know that his company was expanding rapidly, and that they put a proportional amount of resources on games that make the most money. This flexible, scalable system is the method of choice for social game developers, it seems.

Louis Choquel from ZSlide explained that there are risks on platforms, as they had developed their game on FBML and that Facebook technology was later dropped. Also, Facebook Credits have secret costs. Facebook takes 30% of profits, but they also give out free Facebook Credits to all users, which affects companies that attempt to understand whether they’re getting real money or “free” money.

Jussi Laakkonen emphasized that localization is an important part of expansion today, and his company Applifier is dedicated to getting new games to shoot across their games network to increase the number of installs you can get. Localize your game, and then maybe you’ll get lucky with some international players, he wisely explained. You’ve got lots of ‘”habla espanol” people in the United States itself, so make sure you’re thinking about it.