Week that was

PG.biz week that was: Storm8 might be worth $1b, Mork's off to Google, Amazon's in the doghouse, while Glu buys 2 studios and axes key execs

PG.biz week that was: Storm8 might be worth $1b, Mork's off to Google, Amazon's in the doghouse, while Glu buys 2 studios and axes key execs
It happens four times a year; quarterly financials week. That's what has been keeping us busy at PocketGamer.biz; the world of app stores, smartphone platforms, developments in mobile game making and assorted technology.

This week, the main focus was on Japanese companies with DeNA demonstrating its impressive growth through 2010 is ongoing.

Despite investing more than $120 million in expansion and rolling out/integrating its Mobage platform outside of Japan during the quarter, it saw FY11 Q1 net income up 45 percent to $123 million.

Rival GREE doesn't announce its figures until later, but its power was also evident, at least in Konami's numbers. It has the #1 and #2 games on GREE, and booked $99 million of social mobile revenue in Q1 FY12.

Really Smurfin'

We all know Capcom has been doing great guns on iOS with its freemium games, notably Smurfs' Village and Capcom Mobile recorded net sales up 80 percent to $15 million. It also announced it has the Peanuts licence and will be making Snoopy games. Indeed, it plans to release at least 18 games before March 2012.

Sadly, other Japanese companies don't break out their mobile figures in such detail but Sega Sammy said its freemium game Kingdom Conquest had received 1.3 million downloads on iOS, but Namco Bandai saw mobile game subscribers in Japan drop 8 percent to 2.1 million during Q1 2012.

Sticky stuff

It wasn't just Asian companies talking numbers though. Gameloft revealed its half year 2011 sales were up 15 percent to $110 million, but the big rolling news of the week came from Glu Mobile.

It provides incredible detail on its numbers. For example, it said it now has 16.5 million monthly active users and saw its IAP volumes up 32 percent with average transaction worth $4.07.

Partly as a result, this was the first quarter that its smartphone revenues are larger than feature phones. Glu saw its revenues rise 11 percent to $17.7 million.

However, there was plenty more news. Firstly it announced it had doubled its internal development talent acquiring two studios Griptonite and Blammo.

This was quickly followed by a shock redundancy round which saw execs such as chief creative officer Giancarlo Mori and vice president of marketing Michael Breslin out. Sarah Thomson, the biz dev director of its gPartners program, who had only just joined the company, was also out as Glu now looks internally, not externally, to fuel future growth.

Hello, hello

Leaving aside the firing, there was also plenty of hiring going on during the week.

The self styled 'app guy' Patrick Mork announced he was leaving GetJar to join Google as marketing director for mobile apps, while ex-Vodafone and EA exec Tim Harrison took new role at Sony Ericsson, pushing Xperia Play.

Tools company Unity hired 3D Flash expert Ralph Hauwert, while Gameforge co-founder Klaas Kersting emerged from stealth mode with his new outfit - real world mobile gaming developer flaregames.

Build out

Mobile advertising always provides a strong vein for the newshound, and this week saw announcements from key players. Flurry launched Analytics 3.0, adding audience segmentation features, while InMobi bought HTML5 ad platform Sprout to push rich media opportunities.

Tapjoy went down the PR route, pointing out that during July, it had delivered 20 million ad conversions for developers and 10 million for key brand advertisers.

Android continues to be the focus of social mobile platforms. OpenFeint launched new social features on Android before iOS, also revealing 230 OpenFeint-enabled games had been released on Android in two months. Rival ngmoco signed a deal with AT&T to get its Mobage gaming portal app distributed on its Android devices.

Chinese-focused Android social platform PayapaMobile was in the news too. With InMobi, they both integrated their technologies into the cross development Corona SDK via the cloud-based LaunchPad wrapper.

Shutting off the flow

It wasn't a good week for Amazon. Appstore head Rubenson said discoverability and monetisation were the store's cornerstones, but despite 14,000 apps on available, Australian studio Shifty Jelly pulled its apps from Amazon Appstore after it wrote a widely read blog post complaining about Amazon's ability to give away its content for free - and not pay it anything; something that seems to contravene the Appstore's terms and conditions.

A predicted a media backlash kicked off, with the head of the mobile IGDA Mobile SIG starting the #starveamazon hashtag to try to persuade developers to pull their content for the store. (We should point out, this was a personal initiative, not official IGDA policy.)

To make matters worse, Amazon was forced to stop app submissions in Germany because of its ongoing lawsuit with Apple over the term app store.

Big spender

But let's end up roundup with some good news - well, money news, at least.

Cross platform tools provider Sibblingz raised $1 million to extend Spaceport game engine to Facebook's Project Spartan, while the big rumour of the week was emerging social mobile giant Storm8/TeamLava could be raising as much as $300 million, which would value it at $1 billion.

The new Zynga rumours start here... Or do they?

It's difficult to know how credible Playspan's virtual goods survey is, but one finding is that the average spend on virtual items for casual and social games declined between 2010 and 2011.
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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