Interview

CrowdStar's Suren Markosian on why the numbers for female social games on iOS add up

CrowdStar's Suren Markosian on why the numbers for female social games on iOS add up
When it comes to business, it's always a numbers game.

In the social mobile gaming business, those numbers are downloads, active users, daily revenue stats and profits.

Some companies are legally obliged to reveal their key metrics, such as Zynga, while others - notably Glu Mobile - go beyond this, breaking out almost every detail.

Most, however, are more circumspect.

Storm8 is perhaps the most tight-lipped but the likes of Pocket Gems and TinyCo are hardly more loquacious.

Indeed, only solid available numbers in the space are often the VC rounds the companies have netted. San Francisco-based CrowdStar is top of that particular leaderboard, with $23 million raised in its May 2011 round.

Of course, its founder Suren Markosian won't talk numbers.

Go, go, girls

At least, he's happy to discuss the company's move from its original Facebook focus to its current free-to-play push onto iOS and now Android, with games for girls.

"Females are an engaging audience. They're not mean and demanding like boys," he explains.

"It's interesting for us because I think women haven't previously been part of the gaming mass market. They enjoy the products we release and we're happy with the monetisation."

But despite its cash pile, CrowdStar hasn't rushed onto mobile.

It has five games live on Facebook, three on iOS - Social Girl, Top Girl and It Girl - and only one on Android - Top Girl.

"We don't want to put out too many games," Markosian explains.

"It's all about quality for us. We consider ourselves a creative company so we won't sacrifice quality just to get games released.

"We're trying to build a quality brand."

Level playing field

His wider point is that, unlike Facebook, on which gaming is now effectively owned by Zynga, on mobile, no one has dominance.

"We're platform agnostic," he says.

"We still have five games live on Facebook and it's still a big part of our business, but on mobile there's no Zynga, and no one has the same deal with Apple as Zynga and Facebook have."

The downside is that distribution and discovery is a big problem for everyone on mobile, and it's one that's only getting worse.

But thanks to the company's deep pockets, Markosian doesn't seem too concerned.

"User acquisition on iOS is as expensive as Facebook, but iOS is better in terms of monetisation," he argues.

To that degree then, the numbers on mobile really do add up.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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