Facebook is expanding its reach and influence in mobile games, one of the highest performing categories among social and mobile apps. The company is trying to lure small- and medium-sized game developers into a new mobile games publishing platform that combines Facebook’s mobile ad products and promotions with the strength of its social graph.
Although there are some publishing aspects, the move by Facebook is largely a promotional and marketing effort. The social network will take a cut of all revenue generated by the apps it promotes through the new program, but it’s unclear if it plans to compete with the widely adopted 70/30 split.
“We are entering into a revenue share model with the game developers but we don’t break out additional details on the business relationships,” notes Tera Randall, technology communications director at Facebook. “As the mobile app ecosystem expands, breaking through and getting discovered in a crowded marketplace is the biggest challenge for mobile games, especially for mobile developers who don’t have the upfront resources for a paid strategy,” she adds.
Facebook is gaining new mobile ad sales and a share of revenue from the games it helps sell, says Doug Schumacher, co-founder of social media content strategy tool Zuum. Facebook may try to undercut the typical 70/30 split with developers or it could sell its social marketing expertise as a benefit that outweighs the potential for a smaller slice of revenue for developers.
“Facebook has incredible social interest data on people, so the potential to leverage that for gamers’ benefit to sell more games is a potential upside for game developers,” Schumacher tells ClickZ. "I would guess Facebook is going to have a big influence on the mobile gaming area, just based on how much people are using the mobile version of Facebook,” he says. “Not only is mobile use of Facebook going up considerably, but the mobile users are using Facebook much more.”
The social network kicked off the pilot program with 10 titles from different developers around the world, and as Schumacher notes, many of them are oriented around social at some level. Facebook could also be targeting a higher brand play on mobile games, he adds.
“I see very few brands doing much gaming as far as content goes and that could be something that they’re really eyeing, getting large businesses involved in this, but I’m not seeing much right now.”
Facebook is trying to reinvigorate the mobile gaming category by positioning itself as a leading social network for gamers and a partner that can put select games in front of millions of potential new users. The move comes eight months after Facebook’s longtime exclusive agreement with Zynga came to an end and just one week after Electronic Arts Games announced it would be shifting away from Facebook as well. More than 260 million people play games on Facebook every month, according to the company.
“We are using our unique reach and targeting capabilities to help games in our program find and engage a valuable audience of the right users,” Facebook engineer Victor Medeiros describes in a blog post. “We are invested in the success of these games, and in exchange for a revenue share, we will be collaborating deeply with developers in our program by helping them attract high-quality, long-term players for their games. We’ll also be sharing analytics tools and the expertise we’ve gained from helping games grow on our platform for more than six years.”