Ironhide Game Studio and Armor Games have announced the release of Kingdom Rush: Frontiers online on Armor Games’ website. This marks the first time the tower defense game has been made available for free in browsers, after its previous release on iOS and Android earlier this year as a paid app.
Warner Bros. has announced the launch of its newest browser game, in celebration of the upcoming release of the Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez film Getaway. The driving game “Getaway: Race to Glory” is now available to play in browsers, and gives players the chance to put their driving skills to the test across a variety of missions.
Warner Bros. and The Lego Group have announced the launch of Lego Legends of Chima Online in open beta. The browser-game is now available to play for free, but the game’s full launch isn’t expected to happen until sometime this fall.
Developed by WB Games Montreal, Lego Legends of Chima Online is set in the lush land of Chima, as players can choose from one of four characters and take to battle against evil crocodiles and other baddies that wish to gather “Chi,” the land’s most valuable resource. Like many magical substances, Chi can do as much harm as good when in the wrong hands, so players must work fast with others to take back the land from those that would do it harm.
KakaoTalk has gained a lot of traction not just as a messaging application, but as a social games platform as well. Since launching its social games service at the end of June 2012, Kakao has more than 30 million out of its 100 million users playing its catalog of 180 games. The company has announced that these games have generated revenue of 348 billion Won (around $311 million) in the first half of 2013. This is an increase of 193 percent from Q4 2012, where the company earned 118 billion Won ($105 million).
Japanese mobile-social gaming juggernaut DeNA has announced that its China subsidiary will partner with Taiwanese chip designer MediaTek, Inc. to promote its social games. This is the first partnership with an upstream mobile phone supplier for DeNA China. MediaTek’s chips are used in numerous mobile phones and the partnership will make it easier to distribute more of DeNA’s games to more people.
Through the partnership, DeNA will be able to provide its mobile gaming platform, Mobage, pre-installed on devices that use MediaTek chips. Mobage has nearly 50 million users in Japan which is more than a third of Japan’s total population. In China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, the platform has gained more than 20 million gamers. This is very similar to the Pokki, Zynga and Acer partnerships we covered last month.
Though it has yet to find as much of a reputation in the U.S., DeNA has a large following in Asia with numerous high profile titles such as the Transformers IP. Last year, it saw a 22 percent increase in revenue year-to-year with profit increasing three percent. This partnership will be helpful to the Mobage platform in China, where it has already experienced decent success. A similar partnership stateside could potentially interpose the platform to more widespread usage.
Editor’s note: During the upcoming Inside Social Games Conference on June 6-7, Bret Terrill, the Founder of 12gigs.com, will be moderating two panels on the future of social apps, “Gambling Games: The Promise of Real Money,” and “Platform Opportunities for Social Apps.” InsideSocialGames.com had the opportunity to ask Bret two important questions on the future of social and mobile games.
Bret Terrill: A cross-platform gaming network is something that a lot of people were chasing last year as the next big thing. The idea was: Similar to Facebook owning the social graph, a company could own the “gamer graph”, connecting people who liked certain genres across platforms and games. As it stands today, Facebook is really the only company that has been successful in creating a cross-platform (PC and multiple mobile environments) gaming network , one that has largely fed off their immense social network.
Other large games companies, such as DeNA and Gree, have had success in the Japanese market, but they have moved toward a publisher model in the last year. It is an open question on whether Clash of Clans players care about what other games the people they “friend” within the game are playing. I suspect the gameing industry itself cares much more than the players, who are more interested to see what is in the top charts of their phone’s App Store.
Real-money gaming platform Betable today announced the newest partner in its private beta program: casual game developer Frima Studio’s new real-money game division 3OAK.
3OAK is a new development studio formed to create casual and social games built featuring real-money gameplay. Like other developers who have partnered with Betable since the company came out of stealth last summer, 3OAK will be targeting international audiences with the games featuring Betable’s API.
Although real-money gaming has only been seen in social casino games so far, 3OAK isn’t working on these kinds of titles right now. 3OAK director Mikael Lefebvre tells us the studio is working to bring real-money mechanics to genres they haven’t really appeared in so far. As a result, the company has a slate of five game concepts it’s working on, based on the most popular social game types. While he can’t share too many details right now, Lefebvre says the company’s first title will be a humorous/light social RPG which is already in the early testing phase and is expected for an early Q2 launch.
Lefebvre says 3OAK tested out real-money gaming by creating a social game prototype with a cash out mechanic. The prototype showed the retention and engagement were significantly higher than the norm in social games, as well as converting users to paying players. He thinks implementing elements like this will is the way of the future because, “all this makes sense because in the current market the cost of acquiring users is getting higher and higher, so we need higher revenue per user and revenue per paying user.”
While 3OAK’s titles will feature real-money gaming in the territories where such mechanics are legal, Lefebvre tells us they’ll also be available as standard social games in other countries with soft and hard currencies.
Betable CEO Christopher Griffin tells us he’s excited about how 3OAK’s implementing his company’s API; according to Griffin, this is one of the first examples of Betable’s technology in social games outside of the casino genre. He tells us there are other developers working with Betable on non-social casino games, but none of them have been officially unveiled yet.
Griffin believes this is just the start of a larger movement in the social/mobile gaming industries to incorporate real-money elements. “I think this is more than a trend and will be more than a trend,” he says. “This has something that will be very core for how these games monetize and will be essential for them to have some element of real money in them if they want to be competitive.”
Although this is the first time we’ve heard of companies making casual games with real-money mechanics, we’ve known this was a possibility since Betable first came out of stealth. When we initially chatted with Griffin back in July, he provided a mock-up graphic showing how his company’s API would look in mobile titles like Words With Friends and Hero Academy.
Betable’s proven a popular partner in the social/mobile games sector ever since it publicly debuted. Griffin reveals the demand to work with the company has been so great that its team has doubled in size. Before this latest announcement, Betable’s announced partnerships with some major casual gaming companies like Big Fish Games, Digital Chocolate, SGN and Slingo.
3OAK’s first games will be launched for mobile platforms, but the plan is to make them cross-platform sooner rather than later. “Everything has to be cross-platform,” Lefebvre notes.
Former Crowdstar CEO and OpenFeint Co-Founder Peter Relan today announced OpenKit, a new open API service designed for mobile developers that guarantees no lock-in of developer data. The platform will also include cloud-based features like leaderboards and achievements.
As opposed to OpenFeint, OpenKit isn’t designed to be a user network. Instead, developers can implement user data with the platform’s source code in order to host their own service. OpenKit will also allow include authorization services for user networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Apple’s GameCenter. Should a developer decide to host the service as a convenience, there is also a freemium pricing model with basic services offered for free; Relan says this is modeled more like GitHub instead of OpenFeint.
In a statement, Relan said he created OpenKit to appeal to independent developers because of the “extreme uncertainty” they face in regards to what happens to their data and users when platforms are acquired (as is what happened with OpenFeint) and terms of service see dramatic changes (á la Twitter). As a result, Relan maintains there needs to be an open source cloud service for developers that lets them take both code and user data with them should they ever move off the cloud service.
Relan’s reveal of OpenKit is perfectly timed because many developers are now looking for a new alternative API, now that GREE is shutting down its OpenFeint network. However, he is adamant that OpenKit isn’t a statement about GREE’s decision to force developers away from OpenFeint and onto the GREE platform. Instead, he says OpenKit is meant to help developers “control their destiny.”
The launch day version will include the aforementioned features, as well as a cloud service account for developers, data export utility for developers to download and instructions about how one can host their own back-end services on any cloud provider.
OpenKit will be available soon — provided enough groups sign up for the program within the first week or so — as early as sometime in January. Developers interested in signing up can do so at the official site, starting today.
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