GDC Online 12: iOS players are three times more valuable than Facebook, reckons

#gdconline At least on Bubble Witch Saga

GDC Online 12: iOS players are three times more valuable than Facebook, reckons
Three platforms are shaping the future of gaming, according to's Tommy Palm.

At GDC Online 2012, he gave a talk entitled 'Building a multiplatform game business from Facebook to Mobile'.

Of course, given's current business, those platforms are Facebook, smartphones and tablets.

"Players want their games to be seamless, snackable and social across these different platforms," Palm explained. "Casual games such as Bubble Witch Saga are ideal."

Act quick and smart

Yet making games in this competitive environment is difficult.

Companies can reduce risk by spending a lot on high production games, quickly copying successful games, or as does, experiment by releasing a lot of low cost, quickly made game and seeing which ones find an audience.

Before getting into Facebook and mobile,'s main business was its web-based Flash portal, which is an ideal environment for such quick experimentation.

However, data is also crucial for working out exactly which games are winners and worth investing in.

" generates 2.5 billion data points daily and has 8 people working on data analysis full-time," Palm revealed.

Data itself is meaningless unless it's made understandable in some way. That's where indicators such as daily active users, average revenue and retention come into play, particularly when you're looking to compare players from different platforms.

For example, in terms of Bubble Witch Saga, generates around three times the revenue per player on mobile compared to Facebook, with iPad players monetising best on iOS.

In terms of the iOS universal build, players are spread 65 percent on iPhone, 25 percent on iPad, and 10 percent on iPod touch. However, iPad generates 42 percent of overall revenue, with iPhone at 54 percent.

Foundations for growth

Of course, for's Facebook and mobile strategy, that's all about the free-to-play business model.

This means it can address the largest audience in the most flexible manner - differentiating customers in terms of IAP, ads and viral marketing.

An example of this is Bubble Witch Saga's life system, which gives you five lives per day. If you run out, you can buy more, ask your friends for lives or watch a video advert. also mixes up such consumables (which are cheap) with permanent power ups (more expensive).

The final area that Palm stressed was the value of branding and marketing.

This isn't just about getting featured by Apple, but taking a broad approach; everything from PR to using social channels, spending on advertising and cross promotions with people playing your existing games.

Significantly, Palm suggested that such was the speed of interaction required to address this market that the traditional publisher-developer relationship can't react fast enough to be successful.
Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at 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.