This year is going to be a defining one for in-game monetization companies like Offerpal Media. Having been forced to shift its focus away from Facebook with the focus of Credits and its workforce layoff, the offers and payments company is now trying to figure out whether there’s a future off the social network.
Rather than sitting still and waiting for a company like MySpace or Google to offer a viable alternative, Offerpal wants to take matters into its own hands. This morning it’s announcing a new platform called SocialKast, which is designed to make it easier for developers to move off Facebook.
SocialKast doesn’t bring any major innovations to the table; instead, it simply promises to link together multiple platforms. For example, SocialKast could allow a developer on Facebook, Yahoo and MySpace to let its users send messages or notifications onto any of the platforms at once, or all simultaneously. The developer could use the same connections to reach out to new users across platforms.
This sort of integration is technically possible because almost every major platform now offers an API. The challenge is smoothly linking together multiple platforms, given the major differences between them. That’s one reason that most social game developer still exclusively operate on Facebook.
We’ve seen a number of other companies move toward a cross-platform model, including Heyzap, Viximo and Sibblingz. The difference for Offerpal is that it’s aiming specifically at large web platforms like Yahoo and Google, which have their own plans to get gamers off Facebook.
“We think that social gaming, if it’s going to continue to grow, will need to be on other platforms. The growth has been stunted on Facebook lately,” says Matt McAllister, Offerpal’s director of marketing. “Everyone realizes that the big problem in social gaming today is distribution.”
The interesting twist in Offerpal’s case is that it doesn’t want to directly benefit from SocialKast. Instead, says McAllister, the company is simply hoping to stay at the top of developers’ minds. “Our bet is that if we help you get all this distribution across all these sites, you’ll pick us as your monetization partner,” says McAllister. “Our play is still to be the monetization company.”
Of course, Offerpal hasn’t put all of its eggs in one basket with SocialKast; the company also has a separate agreement with Yahoo, and is in the process of moving into mobile monetization.
But SocialKast is also emblematic of the difficulties all the monetization companies that got their start on Facebook face this year. With Credits becoming ever more vital, and more companies choosing to use the Facebook virtual currency exclusively, it’s vital for these companies to help developers move onto the open web. If they fail, they may well face worse than a round of layoffs.