Social networking giant Facebook recently launched a new mobile game publishing initiative to give developers access to its enormous userbase.
Aimed at small-to-medium sized developers, Facebook plans to use its pilot programme to promote a select number of studios to its 800 million monthly users on mobile and 260 million game players through its social network.
Ten games have been selected for the scheme so far, including five from Europe and three from the UK.
To find out more about the company’s plans, Develop spoke to Facebook EMEA heard of partnerships Julien Codorniou on why it has stepped into publishing, and what developers need to do to become part of the program.
Describing Facebook as a gaming platform, Codorniou says the social networking firm is building a strong game ecosystem through Facebook on mobile, highlighting titles such as King’s massively successful Candy Crush Saga, which harnesses Facebook accounts as a key driver for attracting new players.
He explains though the publishing program is not aimed at the mobile gaming giants, but small-to-medium sized businesses who may not have the funds to spend big on marketing campaigns.
“We wanted to propose a way for developers who could not get the right marketing budget to take their game global, thanks to the Facebook platform,” he says.
“So this is why we’re launching this, to strengthen the Facebook mobile gaming ecosystem and work with the smaller developers, the ones who cannot afford to spend the kind of marketing budget people like King or Supercell can spend.”
He adds: “If you look at the list of launch partners, you’ll see that most of the companies we are launching with are start-ups, with the exception of Gameloft, which is a giant in the field of mobile gaming. But they are not known for using the marketing channels, they use popular IPs and brands.
"But most of the companies we are launching and working with are small start-ups with pre-VC money or post-series A."
The program works by helping users discover selected titles in its program, based on their interests and game history. Strategy game enthusiasts on Facebook for example will be able to discover titles in the same genre available on mobile. Codorniou believes that despite going from browser to mobile, these users will be “highly likely” to install and play recommended games.
And he may have a point, In March earlier this year the company reported that 55 per cent of the top 400 iOS apps were integrated with Facebook. It also claimed the site drove 263 million clicks to the Apple App Store and Google Play through its mobile news feed.
“The Facebook news feed on mobile is a very natural place for people to discover games,” says Codorniou.
“Some developers can pay for that, some developers can’t or do not want to. So this is why we created this program.
"It’s really about identifying and engaging with the next generation of mobile gaming companies, and help them to become global gaming companies within one, two, three, four or five years on iOS or Android."
Despite directing its publishing operations at small-to-medium sized developers, the firm is still looking for studios with a track record in the industry rather than brand new start-ups, although didn’t completely rule out a new company with an exciting prospect. In the end, he says games are based on how good they are.
“It can happen, that we discover an amazing company that’s just started from scratch,” he says.
“But if you look at who we’re partnering with right now, all of these guys have a strong experience in gaming. And of course, this is why they know how to produce high quality games which is exactly what we’re looking for. But if tomorrow we meet in Russia two guys in a garage developing an amazing match three kind of game or the next Clash of Clans, we’d be happy to work with them.”
When asked what kind of revenue split Facebook was offering developers, Codorniou declined to comment, but says that the company does have a revenue share deal with studios in its publishing program.
As for the future if Facebook’s publishing ambitions if all goes well, Codorniou says it will continue to add more games and partners to the program. He admits that Facebook is not acting as a publisher in the traditional way, and will not be working on any games itself, but that it is determined to help more start-ups become global businesses.
“It’s important to identify and engage with the next generation of partners, the next Wooga, the next King," he says.
“This is an initiative for us to put small start-ups on the global map as fast as possible, and Facebook has a strong history of working with start-ups.”