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As more money gets poured into social gaming, the race for Facebook dominance isn't over
6 Waves, a social gaming company which builds apps for Facebook, has raised $17.5 million from Insight Venture Partners. The Hong Kong-based company said it plans to use the funds to build infrastructure and a distribution pipeline for other game developers. It's also looking into international expansion and platform extension.
The investment marks another milestone in funding for social gaming app developers. In December of 2009, Zynga, a social gaming company based out of San Francisco, raised $180 million from DST for its popular games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. Just a month earlier, EA acquired Playfish for around $275 million.
And these games aren't about fancy graphics and gameplay like some of those you may be used to seeing on the traditional consoles. Social games are usually free and all about connecting users with their friends. Games are monetized through advertisements and the buying and selling of virtual goods - like in Zynga's Mafia Wars, buying a more powerful weapon for a couple bucks to destroy an enemy with.
To put some numbers into play, Zynga has around 230 million monthly active users. Up and coming 6 Waves said it has over 20 published applications, and over 50 million monthly active users.
And it's not like all these companies are creating original and unique games. For example, 6 Waves launchd a game called Gangster Wars which is very similar to Zynga's Mafia Wars. Both gaming companies also have farming and poker games with the same features. And to add to that, another company I didn't mention yet, Playdom has a mafia themed spinoff, called Mobsters. Either way, millions are flocking to these social games.
These companies are moving fast, launching apps once they are ready to play and then updating and upgrading them based on trends they see and what the users ask for. Once an app starts fading in popularity, you'll see a new one arise.
Pure commentary here, I've yet to see a Facebook gaming app be considered a legendary classic like Super Mario Bro's or Zelda, something unique and timeless that people talk about for a lifetime. At the same time, Facebook app's haven't been around as long. But they come and go. They are built in quantity vs quality as opposed to the traditional games I grew up with.
We've reached out to 6 Waves to talk a little bit about how it differentiates itself in the social gaming space but haven't heard back.
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Playfish is a social games company that creates games for people to play together.
Founded in October 2007 by casual and mobile games veterans and backed by $3M in seed funding, we believe games are more fun when played with friends and family. So we are working on combining the best elements of casual games, social networks, MMOGs and virtual worlds to create entirely new, more social ways of enjoying great games together.
Traditional computer games focus on standalone game play on consoles, your PC or on your mobile. Games that do allow you to play together with others online normally require you to buy the game, go online and try and find like-minded new friends who are also playing the game. This is something that usually only the most dedicated gamers are prepared to do.
Our social games are different. Social games allow you to play together with real-world friends and family using the infrastructure built by social networks. This is in some ways a return to the roots of games. You play with the same people you would play cards, board games or go bowling with in the real world. Sharing the game experience with friends makes it more compelling and fun.
At Playfish we believe social games are a big part of the future of the video games industry, and are working hard to be the leading company in this emerging sector.
Playfish is headquartered in London, UK with offices in Beijing, China and Tromsø, Norway.
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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users. Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist. The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel. Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco. For more information, please visit www.zynga.com.