Category Archives: Social Gaming

iQU™ Launches Innovative Marketing Technology Platform to Drive Worldwide Growth of the Online Gaming Industry

New brand encompasses the former and all of MMO Life’s services, and expands reach to mobile and social platforms

AMSTERDAM and LOS ANGELES ­– Aug. 17, 2011­–In order to meet the demands of the evolving multiplayer online gaming market and to reflect the company’s expansion across gaming platforms and genres, MMO Traffic and its parent, MMO Life Group, are rebranding as iQU™(pronounced “eye-cue”). At its heart a data intelligence company, iQU is a marketing technology platform that uses the company’s unrivaled knowledge of gamer behavior across the Internet, social media, mobile devices and more to match game advertisers and publishers with the right gamers at the right time.

As of today, iQU now has the ability to reach gamers via social and mobile channels, with additional platforms planned for the future. To showcase some of its new features, iQU will present a working demo of a mobile app that lets consumers keep track of their games via their smartphones at Gamescom 2011 in Cologne, Germany. The launch of iQU comes as mobile entertainment experiences tremendous growth around the world; according to recent projections from Strategy Analytics, Juniper Research, Park Associates and GigaOm Pro it will be $52.8bn addressable market by 2015 across online, mobile, social and connected tv games.

Originally founded in 2009, iQU services revolve around GameriQU™ (pronounced “gamer-eye-cue”), a sophisticated platform that maps gamer behavior across platforms. As the Web’s most comprehensive database of online gamer profiles, iQU uses this intelligence to help advertisers target gamers in all territories and regions across the globe, as well as by specific profile preferences, such as game genre, game activity or payment history. This system of profile matching allows iQU to provide its clients with the most accurate assessment of target profiles and their value.

“iQU is creating a social graph of gamer activity that allows us to give advertisers the unprecedented ability to reach targeted audiences when they are most likely to engage with a game,” said Reinout te Brake, chief executive officer and founder of iQU. “No one else in the gaming industry can match our data intelligence on an international level.”

As part of its Gamer Society initiative, iQU operates a network of localized portals including the popular US portal Offering news, reviews and exclusive content, Gamer Society is the social element of iQU, and is in the midst of expanding coverage to encompass the world of mobile games. Gamer Society is an integral part of iQU as it offers the gaming community a place to come together, and boosts the accuracy of matching an individual gamer to a title they’re inclined to begin playing.

“With more than 100+ million tracking points and 40 million player profiles around the globe, GameriQU enables us to scale our platform to unparalleled heights,” explained Jochem de Gruyter, chief technical officer for iQU. “As we expand to mobile and social games across more platforms, we’re constantly evaluating our data to ensure the iQU performance network of data profiles is as accurate as possible. We believe in giving advertisers results that favor quality, not quantity.”

Facebook + Music + Games…not quite there yet?

Bopler Games

We’ve seen lots of new ideas this month: Chicago throwback-rappers The Cool Kids went through Mountain Dew to release an album; Earbits announced city-specific radio stations that survive on zero ads because everything they play is actually an ad; and now, a major label is using social gaming apps on Facebook to push product.

The third case comes courtesy of The EMI Group — the smallest of music’s Big Four major labels, which also include Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and Sony Music Entertainment. EMI agreed last week to a partnership with Facebook social gaming company MXP4, maker of Bopler Games, which has approximately 200,000 users each months by Facebook’s count.

As part of the deal, Bopler — which launched in April and announced on Friday that it’s moving to Los Angeles, we assume to be closer to the music industry — can make little Facebook games out of EMI’s music catalog and sell the label’s music within the games.

The idea of turning music into something “playable” in the sense of a game is a strong one, as noted earlier – especially on Facebook, given the runaway success of other amusements there, such as Farmville and YouTube. It’s nice to know that even as its owner struggles to sell the label to the highest bidder, this major label is opening up to business models that go this far past the tried methods of yesteryear.

Music, games, and Facebook. What’s not to like? Actually, the jury’s still out on these Bopler/EMI games, and here’s why:

  • Bopler ties certain games to certain playlists, rather than letting you play any song with any game. If you want to play Dodge It, you get a Motown-inspired playlist. Pump It comes with contemporary pop music, while Snake It‘s playlist is significantly more indie-oriented. You can change that in the Music tab and select another song, but that’s neither self-explanatory nor easily managed. (The Music tab doesn’t even feature a search bar.) This default handcuffing Bopler puts on users means that they’re essentially randomizing a catalog that ranks among the largest in the music world.
  • Users listen to a 60-second snippet of any song for free, but anything over 60 seconds requires that you buy the song. That’s done by purchasing a “Music Pass” with “Music Cash,” a lengthier-than-necessary process that should probably be replaced by a straight-up $.99-per-song payment plan.
  • Games end at the conclusion of each song. If you’re spinning a 60-second snippet, you only have one minute to play the game until “Game Over” shows up.

As with all social media ventures, this may all come down to numbers. Fortunately for Bopler, nearly 200,000 users have already jumped on board, as mentioned above — a promising figure.

If it can find a way to streamline the payment process and actively promote the catalog a bit better, this agreement and others like it could lead to a new widespread method of paying for (and playing with) music. Right now, though, our impression of Bopler Games was that it’s a bit gimmicky (not that that stopped Farmville).



Google +… what, well games obviously

From those clever people at Google :)….

My family has a games closet. Inside you’ll find a few decks of cards, two decades’ worth of board games and a Twister mat for those times when we’re feeling limber. Playing games is a great way for us to spend quality time with each other (and a little healthy competition never hurt anyone either).

Today we’re adding games to Google+. With the Google+ project, we want to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to the web. But sharing is about more than just conversations. The experiences we have together are just as important to our relationships. We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life.

That means giving you control over when you see games, how you play them and with whom you share your experiences. Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don’t.

When you’re ready to play, the Games page is waiting—click the games button at the top of your stream. You can see the latest game updates from your circles, browse the invites you’ve received and check out games that people you know have played recently. The Games page is also where your game accomplishments will appear. So you can comfortably share your latest high score—your circles will only see the updates when they’re interested in playing games too.

If you’re not interested in games, it’s easy to ignore them. Your stream will remain focused on conversations with the people you care about.

You’ll have a fun initial set of games to play with on Google+. Thanks to the developers who’ve worked with us to make them available:

If you’re a developer interested in building games for Google+, you can learn more on our new Google+ developer blog.

Today we’re starting to gradually roll out games in Google+. We look forward to making them fully available to everyone in Google+ soon. When you see a Games page in your account, please give games a try and send us feedback. Look for the “send feedback” button in the bottom right-hand corner of any page in Google+. Thanks for playing! Like the rest of the Google+ project, we’re just getting started.

Posted by Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President, Engineering

Social Gaming Roundup: Acquisitions, Game Updates, Zynga Japan, & More

Zynga Japan Shuts Down FarmVille & Treasure Isle — According to a post from Dr. Serkan Toto, and via Game Watch, Zynga Japanis sunsetting down both FarmVille (Farmvillage) and Treasure Isle (Treasure Island) on Japan’s social network, Mixi. Each title was earning around 114,000 and 21,000 users each.

EA Uses Debt to Pay for PopCap — EA states that it will use $550 million in convertible debt to finance part of its recent PopCap purchase. As noted by VentureBeat, this is likely to allow for greater financial flexibility when it comes to making further acquisitions.

Ubisoft Buys Owlient — Core games developer Ubisoft has purchased web games developer Owlient. The acquisition is part of Ubisoft’s strategy to expand its games onto the web, social networks, and mobile spaces.

BrandEngageSponsorPay Launches BrandEngage to Drive Engagement & Monetization — Social advertising platform SponsorPay released a new product called BrandEngage this week. The service allows social game and app developers to enhance user engagement and monetization in their titles by integrating cost-per-engagement campaigns on Facebook and other social networks.

Kontagent Expands Analytics Platform — Earlier this week, Kontagent expanded its social analytics platform beyond games and apps on the Facebook platform with kSuite. Now, game developers for both the web and mobile platforms will be able utilize demographic data based on location, age groups, gender, engagement, and so on in real time.

Round of Funding Raised for deal united — The payments company behind PAY.BY.SHOPPING, deal united, has announced the ending of a Series B financing round led by Tengelmann E-Commerce Beteiligungs GmbH. Also participating were Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, KFW Bankengruppe, High-Tech Gründerfonds, and Venture Incubator. Though the exact amount raised was not noted, the proceeds are stated to be used for expanding global brand awareness.

Bopler GamesEMI Signs Deal With Social Games Publisher MXP4 — Major record label EMI has signed a deal with social games publisher MXP4 says the Guardian. Through the deal, EMI will provide music from various artists to sell within MXP4′s Bopler Games app on Facebook. Sixty seconds of songs will be free, but Facebook Credits will be required to purchase full access.

Sometrics Releases Virtual Currency Infographic — Sometrics has released an infographic regarding its virtual currency services. According to the data, the majority of virtual currency purchases they’ve seen since has derived from the MMOG at 43 percent, followed by casual and social games at 35 percent. Additionally, credit cards make up the primary payment method at 53 percent with the most active spending day being Friday.

[Launch] Kabam Releases New Dragons of Atlantis Content — Social developer Kabam has announced the release of new content for its Facebook title, Dragon’s of Atlantis. High level players will now be able to further upgrade their Fortress with new looks and abilities as well as be able to gain access to a new combat class, the Fire Dragon.

Cow Clicker Runs Amusing Campaign — Facebook application Cow Clicker is running an amusing promotion to “Save The Pigs” by clicking cows in their game. Poking fun at Angry Birds, the app provides an amusingly written “open letter” detailing the entire predicament.


TinyCo Launches $5 Million Fund To Finance Games From Third-Party Developers

TinyCo, the mobile gaming company Andreessen Horowitz backed in an $18 million round, is launching a $5 million fund to finance iOS and Android titles from third-party developers. Called the TinyFund, the program provides up to $500,000 per title along with marketing, development and business assistance.

TinyCo says it’s not looking to take revenue share from developers and instead says it’s launching the fund to grow its network of games. It also says that developers maintain ownership of their intellectual property. Growing a network of titles would presumably help TinyCo distribute its own in-house games more easily. This is key, especially in an era where incentivized installs — a once reliable and inexpensive way to acquire users — are on their way out on iOS.

On the one hand, it’s not uncommon for many of the larger developers to mix work produced in-house with games that are published on behalf of smaller studios. Glu Mobile regularly creates their own titles while publishing titles from other firms; it secured two deals earlier this quarter to work with author James Frey’s publishing company and Blammo Games, for example. Gamevil’s hit Air Penguin was originally developed by a six-person South Korean studio called Enterfly. This is just a way to mitigate the risks inherent to a hits-driven business.

Yet at the same time, from the perspective of the venture-backed social gaming world, this is more unusual as the largest companies like Zynga have cherry-picked their winners by buying small studios outright instead of merely financing their titles.

TinyCo recently launched two casual sim titles Tiny Nightclub and Tiny Zoo and two other major older titles, Tiny Chef and Tap Resort. It says it has seen more than 20 million downloads across its portfolio.

CrowdStar Secures $23 Million Series A Funding From Intel, Time Warner, The9

Social game developer CrowdStar nets a $23 million investment this week in a series A round led by Intel and Time Warner with participation from Chinese game publisher The9 and from NVInvestments.

Peter Relan, CEO of CrowdStar, tells us that the funding will go primarily toward expanding CrowdStar’s reach beyond Facebook onto other platforms and into other regions through hiring and development. The participation from The9, he says, confirms that there’s a large potential audience in China that the developer could tap if it had the resources to develop its games for non-Facebook platforms and localize them for China, Japan, Korea and other Asian countries.

Key to success in Asia is the mobile platform, on which CrowdStar has only recently begun to release its games, which is where the support from Intel comes in. Intel has also invested in OpenFeint, a mobile-focused sister project to CrowdStar formed out of the YouWeb incubator.

“Our focus on mobile is most important right now,” Relan says. “We believe social gaming is going beyond Facebook and mobile [eventually]. In a year, we’ll look at investing in [expanding onto] smart TVs.”

Relan says that CrowdStar aims to reach a potential audience of 2 billion alone on smartphones and “highly capable” feature phones. In Asia, Relans says there maybe 1 billion gamers that “want It Girl.” In order to get its games in front of those audiences as quickly as possible, CrowdStar hopes to double its staff this year to around 200 employees by investing about 80% of this series A funding into game development talent to adapt existing games and create new one. The rest will go toward globalization and localization of existing CrowdStar games.

This round of funding represents the first time CrowdStar has ever raised funding from investors for its projects. Previously, the developer was funded primarily from its own profits, but Relan says that the social games market is in a unique place that CrowdStar needs to take advantage of.

“Every major industry has three independent leaders,” Relan explains. “Over several years, three, maybe four wind up dominating the space. Playdom cashed out early. It’s really just Zynga and maybe one other left. And CrowdStar [has the chance] to remain one of the few independent social game developers with long term [potential].”

Beyond Asia and platform expansion, CrowdStar will get support from investors Time Warner in the form of branded intellectual property. CrowdStar hasn’t announced any new games as of yet, but Relan recently told us we could expect to see a new title this quarter.

CrowdStar has seen some gradual losses in monthly and daily active users across all its games in the last three months, according to our traffic tracking service, AppData. down about 10 million in MAU to today’s levels of 29.1 million and down 2 million in DAU to today’s 2.4 million figure. Its largest game, It Girl, accounts for 8 million of its total MAU and almost 800,000 of its DAU.


Top 10 Facebook Applications for Music Lovers

Considering a Facebook application renaissancecould be on its way, it’s a good time to take a look at some of the apps that managed to make and keep themselves relevant during the Dark Ages. If you’re a music lover, check out this list of 10 great options to consider for adding some more music-related interactivity to your Facebook profile.

Whether it’s expressing your love for music on your Facebook profile or even casual “I like this song” folks wanting to share the occasional tune with friends, you’ll probably find something of interest on this list. And of course, if you know of any other worthwhile music apps we missed, let us know in the comments.

10. MixPod

mixpodThis app integrates with the MixPod site to let you create playlists and embed them on your Facebook profile. They have a fairly large selection and you can browse by year which is a nice feature — but be sure to test out the tracks you’ve added before posting the playlist. We had trouble with a few of the songs not playing, or being unmarked covers of the originals.

You also have a number of styles to choose from for your playlist, from utilitarian to playful. You’ll have to create a MixPod account to set up, save and embed your playlists.

9. Music Video Jukebox

music-vid-jukeboxThis is a fun little app that makes it easy to post music videos to your profile from YouTube or You can search for YouTube videos right inline from the app, or let it scan your Facebook profile’s musical favorites section to help surface videos you might like. Or, hook it in to your account to pull in the videos from the most recent tracks you’ve listened to, and post them to your profile with one click.

8. Music Challenge

music-challengeFor the more trivia minded among you, Music Challenge is one of the more popular music trivia apps at almost 3.4 million monthly active users. It follows a typical “name that tune” format, where you have to identify the song based on the audio being played. In bonus mode, you also get points for identifying the artists.

7. Music

my-musicDubbed simply Music, this is another twist on sharing songs through your profile. You can upload your own tracks to share in your embedded playlist — although hosting limitations constrain you to only two at a time. However, you can also add and share any music from URLs on the web, including YouTube. Grab the URL of the track or YouTube music video you want to include and paste it into the “Add Song” interface to build up your playlist.

6. Profile

lastfm-profileWhereas used to have its own official Facebook app, they’re interestingly deprecating it in favor of third-party community apps. The Profile app is one of the better among them, and allows you to add a handy tab to your Facebook profile with stats from your profile. Simply add the app, submit your username, and once the data is cleared you can add the profile as a new tab in your Facebook profile.

5. My Band

my-bandIf you’re a music lover who is also a musician, you might want to check out My Band. It’s a promotional tool to enhance your Facebook Page with band-specific needs like gig schedules (including ticket sales), music sales, mailing lists and street teams, and analytics on who is listening and sharing your tunes.

4. imeem

imeem-fbThis official app from the folks at imeem lets you integrate your imeem profile with Facebook, but can also be useful even if you don’t spend much time on imeem itself. After adding the app you can add songs, videos, and playlists to your profile from the featured, most played this month, and top ranked leaderboards, or add any track imeem hosts by pasting its URL into the Facebook app. You can also see your Facebook friends’ imeem activity and manage your profile from within the app.

3. Pandora

pandora-fbIf you already use Pandora, its official app will help you integrate your listening with Facebook. You can set up either a sidebar box with details from your Pandora listening or add it as a new tab to your Facebook profile. Show off your latest stations, favorite artists and songs to your Facebook friends, or create new custom stations right from within the app. You can also see what your Facebook friends are listening to from the Pandora app dashboard.

2. Share Song

groovesharkFrom the folks at Grooveshark, the Share Song application is one of those simple yet very effective apps that simply lets you find and share music easily. Just search for the track you want to listen to or share, and if it exists in Grooveshark’s 8+ million song database you can post it to your profile or send it directly to friends.

1. iLike

ilikeAlthough it’s owned by rival MySpace, iLike has been one of the most popular music applications on Facebook for some time. You can listen to and post songs to your profile, get music news and updates, find nearby concerts and more.