Dennis Ryan, the EVP of Worldwide Publishing for PopCap — creators of games and brands, Bejeweled, Zuma and Plants vs Zombies – gave an insightful talk about what they’ve learned from social games at today’s Social Gaming Summit, and also revealed that Zuma Blitz is coming to Facebook this month.
PopCap has always been known for creating viscerally entertaining games, and they are an example of a company that started in casual games (those games you used to play on Yahoo Games and MSN Games).
They are on desktop, online, mobile and console. 80% digital vs 20% retail is the split for the games that they deliver. Overall, the games have been installed over 1 billion times, and they’ve had 500M players since 2008 and they have about 50M active users per month.
CasualCharts.com shows them as #1 for downloadable PC games. They are a top 5 developer for smart phone and a top 5 social game provider. And they’re also top 3 for handheld/retail.
The game industry is in the most important transition in the history of games. While US Media and traditional console companies have lost value, along with the Nasdaq over the last 3 years, Asian online gaming companies have soared, and PopCap is interested in riding and defining that trend.
Bejeweled Blitz players for Facebook play 3 Billion games a month. More than 80% of PopCap currency buyers are repeat buyers, which is a part of PopCap’s strategy: make games that keep people coming back. That stickiness is also shown in multi-platform sales, because after Bejeweled Blitz was released for Facebook, sales on PC, iPhone and DS increased by 100%, 50% and more. This awareness spreading is invaluable for PopCap, but again, it’s because the game is so attractive that players want to play everywhere.
Dennis had some key insights about payments as well. He represent the game players’ perspective:
- Focus on gameplay and reach before you think too much about monetization.
- Less than 5% pay directly (through currency and direct payments), the rest pay through advertisements, cross-sells, etc.
- Focus on ease of payments, even if you get a margin hit. AKA, PopCap likes Facebook Credits.
- Know your statistics.