Mar

29

Yahoo Starts Courting Social Game Developers

Mark Stephens

Do you Yahoo? Nope? Thought not. But a lot of people do – especially in the US, which accounts for almost a third of its traffic and a big proportion of its claimed 800 million users. In fact Yahoo remains one of the Top Ten sites in the world and one of the Big Three search engines along with Google and Bing. The network recently took the plunge and launched a social game development platform in a bid to attract some of the talent that has been creating games for the online social media giants like Facebook and on the mobile platforms like Android and Apple iOS. Is it too late…or better late than never?

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Looking for a Piece of the Pie?

Just when you would have been forgiven for thinking that the world of social gaming was heading for saturation point, Yahoo has reminded us that it is still alive and kicking and wants a piece of the pie. But is there enough to go round?

Yahoo signaled its intent to become more active in social gaming in May last year by buying infrastructure support company Playerscale. The company creates software to aid developers in scaling their games across all of the key social, mobile and casual platforms – XBLA, Facebook, the iOS App Store and Google Play.

Yahoo also recently purchased mobile gaming company Loki Studios and, in January of this year, Cloud Party, which is a gaming company specializing in virtual worlds and multiplayer gaming. This change of focus towards everything social was also evidenced by Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr in may 2013.

Then, earlier this month, the network got really serious about gaming by announcing the launch of the Yahoo Games Network. It aims to become a platform for third-party game developers to distribute their games on Yahoo, as they currently do on other networks.

What’s the Big Attraction?

The attraction for Yahoo is obvious. With the social gaming market predicted to reach $17.4 billion by 2019, the pie is a huge one. And attracting developers means attracting players, which means attracting Yahoo users…and boosting the advertising potential for the network.
What’s in it for developers? Yahoo says:

“…easy onboarding services that help them authenticate players, monetise their games, provide social sharing, analytics and ongoing operational support for growth”.

Additionally Yahoo Games Network will provide developer services such as:

  • PlayerInsight – stats on the number of active users and revenue generated from a game
  • Sitebox – allowing users to create Facebook apps
  • Achievements – allowing players to track awards and milestones

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The site offers an SDK with client libraries for Android and iOS. But is there really anything new here?

Are You Game?

Initially there is not much new here for players. The classic Yahoo games will feature heavily – Yahoo Poker, Yahoo Pool and Yahoo Bingo, plus the likes of Bingo Blingo and Slotomania. But from now on they will be accessible from Android and Apple mobile devices too.
However Yahoo is aiming for a lot more than this – trying to turn the network into one that actively competes for the new and exciting titles coming along. The GM of Yahoo games says:

“We’re already working with some of the best developers in the industry like Rumble Entertainment, DreamWorks, SGN, ChangYou, Namco Bandai America, Playtika, FlowPlay, Con Artist Games and many more on web and mobile….We plan to keep building out our platform with improvements and new features – providing not only a great experience for our millions of users, but also a cross-platform network for developers looking to reach the untapped gaming audience of Yahoo’s 800 million users worldwide, including 400 million users on mobile.”

If you’re based in Europe you may not be a big Yahoo user, but you will have more gaming options and compatibility, and that can’t be bad.

However, from this side of the Atlantic Ocean, one can’t help but feel that Yahoo’s push towards social gaming this far down the track is a bit like a large dinosaur trying to awake after a comet has hit the planet and made its species extinct. It’s struggling to remain relevant in a new world increasingly dominated by other beasts….