Facebook is not only the biggest social network in the world, but it has also grown to become the biggest online game destination. People that did not play online games before, started playing them on Facebook when they saw their friends also doing that. Because Facebook does not develop the games itself, many companies were started to create content for Facebook. Some of these have even grown into huge companies themselves, such as Zynga that just filed for IPO.
Reading Zynga’s S-1 it becomes clear that the company relies almost completely on Facebook. The SEC filing says in the risk factors section: “Facebook is the primary distribution, marketing, promotion and payment platform for our games. We generate substantially all of our revenue and players through the Facebook platform and expect to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Any deterioration in our relationship with Facebook would harm our business”.
Most other social game companies face exactly the same problem, all their players are on Facebook, which is potentially a big risk. Likely Google+ will also add social games to its social network, and I am sure that Zynga and other developers will then try to get users to play their games on Google+ as well. But it’s not sure yet that Google+ will become as big as Facebook, or that people will use the social network in the same way as Facebook. So whether it will be a real alternative is still a big question mark.
Therefore game developers are looking for other solutions. Today’s Financial Times published an article about how leading browser-based game developer Bigpoint will now distributes its games on the Spil Games social game platforms. For Bigpoint this has the added advantage that Spil Games focuses only on games. As Bigpoint CEO Hubertz says in the article: “Facebook is not a gaming website. Their first interest is not that the user finds our games… but that users can communicate.”
Spil Games’ users go there with the primary goal to play (social) games, and the company also understands game developers better than Facebook does. As Mr. Hubertz notes in the FT article “the decision to tie up with SpilGames reflected that company’s greater interest in promoting game play. On Facebook, developers must pay the host to promote games to users, whereas part of SpilGames’ mission as host is to link users of its websites to games they might like, such as car chase game Lose the Heat.”.
Now that even big game developers are working with Spil Games, this dedicated social game network is more and more becoming a real alternative to Facebook. Not only for game developers, but also for gamers. The fast-growing number of players shows that they are also finding their way to Spil Games portals such as agame.com and girlsgogames.com. According to the FT article the number of unique users per month has grown from 99 million at the end of 2009 to 130 million in May this year. Spil Games is not trying to be the new Facebook, but it can be a real alternative for people that like to play online games there.