PlaySpan launches game-monetization service

Katie Gatto · October 1, 2010 · Short URL:

A quicker route to in-game item sales

Social games are a bit of a mixed bag. They are a lot of fun to play, and on the business end, they have the potential to bring in large audiences. The rub for game developers, however, is making some money in the process. Making a profit from social games can be a bit of a sticky widget. This has created an opportunity for companies to provide developers with a comprehensive, and easy-to-implement solution.

Silicon Valley-based PlaySpan, which Karl Mehta founded in 2005, hopes to be  just that tool. It launched Friday a “monetization as a service” platform. The service enables game makers to generate revenue off of games by giving them the ability to set up an in-game, paid-item service, in a matter of days. 

Now game developers can charge for virtual goods purchases by accepting credits bought by users in retail stores. The cards, which can be used in multiple games, are available in over 50,000 retail locations across North America.

Zynga, the popular social gaming company, also offers gamers a similar way to buy credits in retail shops.   

The idea of getting users to begin playing for free but then charging them as they advance may sound a little bit specious at first.

But it's hard to overlook the sales. Revenue from items purchased on games, like FarmVille and The Sims, is expected to be more than $2 billion next year. This year, the market is estimated to total $1.6 billion, according to a report by Inside Virtual Goods.

PlaySpan just raised $18 million in a Series C round, in August of this year, bringing total funding raised, to about $42 million, from investors,  including Easton Capital Group, Menlo Ventures, STIC International. and Novel TMT Ventures Limited.

PlaySpan's system is already in use by Sanrio, for its Hello Kitty based MMORPG, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The anticipated rate of player use of the virtual goods systems is 3% to 8%, which is in line with the general industry standard for online games, according to Social Times.

PlaySpan is, of course, not the only company looking to cash in on a developers needs, to make money from their product. In September, Adknowledge released a monetizaiton platform, that offers three solutions for game developers. One of those solutions, was in-game item sales. Other options for in game item sales are more proprietary, like the Facebook Credits system, which will only work for games distributed on that platform. And, developers are free to create their own item sales platforms, like Nimblebit just announced they will be doing, with their Pocket Frogs game.
PlaySpan was not available for comment at this time.

(Images are courtesy of PlaySpan website)

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PlaySpan™ is game industry's first publisher-sponsored™ in-game commerce™ network. PlaySpan's patent-pending in-game search, commerce and micropayment technologies enable game publishers and developers to generate new revenues, acquire new users and extend the loyalty of existing users. Leading game providers and virtual world publishers have selected PlaySpan as their official marketplace for virtual goods commerce.

PlaySpan is based in Silicon Valley with offices in Mumbai and Shanghai.

Investors include Easton Capital, Menlo Ventures, STIC and Novel TMT Ventures.