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Posted by: In: blog 10 Dec 2013 1 comment

Candy Boom from Eva Studio is on the rise on Facebook, with the match-three game climbing to over 1.4 million monthly active players, according to our app tracking service AppData. The game provides a repeatable match-three level and the ability to compare scores against friends, but without the additional challenge of games like Candy Crush Saga.

Each level in Candy Boom is the same, and asks players to clear all of the white squares from the board within a certain number of moves. Like gold tiles in Jewel Quest or jelly tiles in Candy Crush Saga, these white squares are removed by making a match of three or more like-colored candies on top of them.

As players make matches of four or more like candies, or special T or L shaped matches, the board fills with power-ups and bombs which may clear whole rows or columns of white tiles from the board, or simply destroy a few squares in a confined area.

Each play in Candy Boom costs a life, but players can purchase these and additional power-ups with real money. For instance, one power-up clears the entire bottom row of white squares, while another destroys 27 candies at once. Players are also given a few of these items for free as they complete games, earn experience points and eventually level-up.

If players manage to clear all of the white tiles from the board before their moves run out, they’ll activate a bonus game consisting of a reset board, a reset move count, and the ability to earn even more points without spending another life. The more points earned in a single game, the higher players climb on the in-game leaderboard.

Candy Boom is now available to play for free on Facebook, and was recently released on iOS and Android as “Candy Booms” and “Candy Boom,” respectively. Both mobile apps are available to download for free. Check back soon to follow Candy Boom on AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social apps and developers.

Posted by: In: blog 10 Dec 2013 0 comments

High 5 Games announced today that it will launch Asian-themed social casino games in a twist on the social casino boom.

That’s one way to set itself apart from an estimated 100 social casino game startups that have sprouted in the past year or two to challenge incumbents such as Zynga Poker.

The announcement piggybacks on the popularity of real-money gambling in places like Macau and Singapore as well as the growth of Asian-themed casinos in Las Vegas such as Mandarin Oriental and an upcoming $2 billion Asian-themed resort being built on the old Stardust hotel site.

“We’re very excited to announce the launch of Shake the Sky, High 5 Games’ second social casino and the company’s first comprehensive product for the social and mobile Asian markets,” said Anthony Singer, the CEO of High 5 Casino in New York. “Shake the Sky will offer more than 30 region-specific games to tap into the growing enthusiasm players have for real slot content.”

The game, a reskin of High 5 Casino, will include slot machine titles from an existing collection, including Asian-themed slots West Journey Treasure Hunt, Golden Three Kingdom, and Four Great Chinese Beauties. Themes will come from Asian soap operas, Wuxia films, and other Asian symbolism. High 5 Games has hundreds of casino-related games that are played in 150 countries. It was founded in 1995 in New York. On Facebook, it has 1.5 million monthly active players and 500,000 daily active players for High 5 Casino.

Posted by: In: blog 10 Dec 2013 0 comments

Gaming on Facebook is continuing to evolve as the platform attracts new creators and players. The social network now has more genres than ever making up its most-played and biggest-earning games, according to information from Facebook.

While Facebook, which has 260 million people playing games each month, used to be known primarily for such games as FarmVille, Dan Miller, the head of the North American Games Division at Facebook, said the top 20 grossing games are more diverse than ever. Facebook highlighted the diversity in its 2013 Games of the Year review.

See also: Gamers Around the World Are Insanely Addicted to ‘FIFA 14′

“Seeing the maturation of the Facebook as a platform is really exciting,” Miller said. “These new games and genres really shake up what people imagine Facebook games to be.”

Miller said along with seeing more genres, he’s seeing people playing games for longer periods, describing what he sees as “usage resembling core PC gameplay.” He also said the biggest upticks for Facebook’s gaming are in the evening during “prime time hours.”

“It’s interesting that play is peaking in the evening when all those other entertainment opportunities are available,” Miller said. “Evenings are a precious time, when other obligations are behind you. Gamers aren’t just spending 15 minutes during the day to while away the time at work.”

Miller highlighted the five genres he’s seeing expand rapidly at Facebook. Although he and Facebook declined to provide stats for each game’s users or money earned through monetization, he said that revenue was up 18% year-over-year from the third quarter of 2012 to 2013.

1. Social Casino — This genre covers social versions of popular casino activities, where you play for in-game currency. Facebook highlighted examples like DoubleU Casino and Heart of Vegas as frontrunners in the genre, which Miller said is “very diverse.”

“We have very big partners that were already big in the world of casinos bringing in successful IP from the real world, but we also have wacky startups on Europe with no experience,” Miller said.

2. Match 3 — The influence of Candy Crush Saga in this puzzle genre is impossible to ignore this year, though this genre isn’t exactly new to Facebook. This style of puzzle game has been endlessly reinvented for two decades. Other examples Facebook highlighted were Jelly Splash and King’s Farm Heroes Saga.

3. Hidden Object — Hidden object games involve asking players to hunt down objects in a scene. Miller said Facebook’s huge stand out in this genre is Criminal Case, which the company named its “Game of 2013.” Developer Pretty Simple recently said the game has 100 million players.

“I’m continually impressed with how diverse the player base is,” Miller said. “It’s a more diverse age range than you might expect.”

4. Hardcore Simulation Games — Miller pointed out that Top Eleven Be a Football Manager is one of the year’s biggest successes, with 10 million players.

“It’s playing in a space that we thought was core genre. You aren’t playing soccer; it’s a thinking, strategic game,” he said.

5. Hardcore Strategy Games — Strategy games are mostly commonly associated with the PC. Miller said Kixeye’s War Commander is a strong example of a real-time strategy game that requires deeply committed play. Other noteworthy strategy games Facebook chose to highlight include Wartune, King’s Bounty: Legions and Soldiers Inc.

“The last 18 months show us that a company of almost any size can have a tremendous commercial success in a lot of different genres. Companies are really coming at genres from unique angles,” Miller said.

Posted by: In: blog 10 Dec 2013 0 comments

Social media like Facebook, Google+ etc. give us a relatively straightforward way to put a ‘social wrapper’ on some of our game experiences, which was missing from most versions of most of our games today. Given the chance, people will socialize around games, but to date that social activity has been almost entirely limited to gathering around a single computer.

Social gaming has been a substantial part to reach out to both smartphone and feature phone users. However, nowadays, successful games that will not rely on social networking service but have interactions with friends in the game, is increasing. If the main force shifts to contents of the games, social features are equally playing an important role is its success.

Examples of social features

Facebook is something that connects you socially with a lot of different friends, who are going to have interactions with you via Facebook in interested games. More than 200 million people playing games on Facebook. The social gaming market is starting to generate big revenues and a marketplace that could constitute a good chunk of the social e-commerce market.

If you look at gaming services, for example if you look at Xbox One or PS4, one of the more traditionally or generally accepted features of the gaming service is the ability to play with friends at different locations at the same time.

It is pretty obvious that engaging a larger group of players will produce a better gaming experience and then yield more creative ways enhancing the contents. However the real benefits of engaging the team come from the changes that happen in the team.

By engaging the team not only do get better input data and ideas, but it also encourages problem solving, foster action, build social capital and foster collective ownership of ideas. Games like PetVille has used collaborative building to build content and others like Ravenwood Fair uses collaborative building in its main game loop where player need to ask others for help in order to build new games.

Most massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) are open-ended virtual environments with extraordinarily rich possibilities for play. These games are played successfully using a wide variety of strategies. NCSoft and Cryptic Studios formed the vanguard of one of the first few MMOs to make huge popularity amidst EverQuest, World of Warcraft, and others.

The experience of a social game needs to be different each time and the presented challenge needs to evolve. As such, players can send each other gifts, cosmetic and decorative or add certain items that are needed within a game. Games like Fairway Solitaire inspire great loyalty because their players can always find something to new to do in them. From a design perspective, Gamebrain is a one such platform for collaboration that is a kind of social base of knowledge and tools for mobile analytics, development, distribution, and monetization.

Social features in games may start as a way to interact with an old friend. That interaction may become a deeper social engagement – you exchange news, obtain any kind of milestone within the game, rediscover old similarities or rivalries. Bejeweled Blitz, for instance, has a daily bonus and a slot machine so that players can win a random amount each day. GameDuell has the social feature to rescue and share cute animals and the company has doubled the number of feed entries from their game by introducing unlockable cute fuzzy animals. There are also all kinds of rewards for players by achieving certain levels.

Posted by: In: blog 09 Dec 2013 1 comment

The state of the Facebook ecosystem looks quite different from Europe, Criminal Case developer Pretty Simple told Gamasutra last week.

It’s a view held up by Facebook itself, revealing in its annual Games of the Year list this morning that European and independent studios have come to dominate an increasingly diverse ecosystem.

“We are definitely seeing more and different studios getting into the platform,” says Facebook’s A.J. Glasser, who credits the spread in part to the growing accessibility of Unity and HTML5 on the platform in the last year. “In addition, many of these games are cross-platform, hitting both web and mobile. Some [like King's games] launch first on Facebook and then spread to mobile, and for others it’s the reverse.”

Of its 23 highlighted titles, eight of the entries on Facebook’s Games of the Year list are cross-platform, and 10 arrive from studios based in Europe or the Middle East. While the list sees a marginal uptick in the success of casino and slots games, the majority are prototypical free-to-play social games — and many are designed with a hardcore or middlecore audience in mind.

“We wanted to highlight games not simply based on traffic, but user ratings and quality as well,” Glasser explains. “These are the games we honestly, truly loved.”

The full list of highlighted titles follows below.
Best New Games of 2013

Bake Shop Drop by Broken Bulb Studios (USA)
Farm Heroes Saga by King (UK)
Heart of Vegas by Product Madness/Aristocrat (UK)
Hit It Rich Casino Slots by Zynga (USA)
Jelly Splash by Wooga (Germany)
Kitchen Scramble by Disney Interactive (USA)
Monster Legends by Social Point (Spain)
Smurfs & Co.: Spellbound by Ubisoft (France)
Soldiers Inc. by Plarium (Israel)
Solitaire Tales by Qublix (Canada)
Thunder Run War of Clans by SpinPunch Games (USA)
Vikings Gone Wild by EveryDayiPlay (Poland)

Staff Favorites

DoubleU Casino by AFewGoodSoft (South Korea)
Game of Thrones Ascent by Disruptor Beam (USA)
King’s Bounty: Legions by Nival (Russia)
Panda Jam by SGN (USA)
Wartune by Road7/Proficient City (China)
War Commander by Kixeye (USA)

2013 Hall of Fame

Candy Crush Saga by King
DoubleDown Casino by DoubleDown Interactive/IGT (USA)
FarmVille 2 by Zynga
Slotomania by Playtika/Caesar’s Interactive (Israel)

Game of the Year 2013
Criminal Case by Pretty Simple (France)

From Facebook: “This hidden object game from a French indie studio combines crime scene investigation with engaging sharing mechanics to create the most successful Facebook game of the year.”