Facebook Unveils Promo Effort For Mobile Games

Facebook on Tuesday announced a new pilot program to help mostly smaller mobile game developers promote and distribute their titles across the social network. Facebook Mobile Games Publishing will work to provide promotional support for games through placements in its mobile apps.

“With more than 800 million monthly users of our mobile apps and more than 260 million people playing games on Facebook, we are using our unique reach and targeting capabilities to help games in our program find and engage a valuable audience of the right users,” stated Facebook’s Victor Medeiros, in a blog post today.

Among the 10 initial partners through the new program, which Facebook unveiled in connection with the Casual Games conference today in San Francisco, are Gameloft, 5th Planet, OutPlay Entertainment and KiwiGames. Facebook said it plans to target people who already plays games on the site with new offerings from these partners.

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“For example, we will help strategy game fans find strategy games and casual game enthusiasts find casual games,” wrote Medeiros. Beyond providing distribution in exchange for a revenue share from games, Facebook said it will also offer developers with analytics tools and its broader expertise as a platform that’s helped drive hit games like “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars.”

Facebook has already taken steps to help boost app and games distribution with the launch of its App Center and the rollout of app install ads last year. At the same time, the company is helping to seed the growth of its own mobile ad sales and payments business coming from games by assisting developers directly.

During its second-quarter conference call last week, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg indicated that revenue from app install ads, which let users download games through the ad units, was still small but growing rapidly. Overall, mobile ad revenue made up 41% of Facebook’s total ad revenue in the quarter, up from almost nothing a year ago.

Facebook is also trying to lessen its historic reliance on Zynga, given the game developer’s recent struggles to shift its business from the desktop to mobile. During the conference call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the “rapid growth” of rival games provider King,com on its platform through popular new games like “Candy Crush.”

Still, the company’s payments business from games-related purchases and other fees in the second quarter was up just 11% to $214 million, compared to the overall 53% gain in ad revenue. By helping find the next Zynga through its new promotional program for developers, Facebook would like to see that business regain momentum.

Small- and medium-sized developers can learn more about Facebook Mobile Games publishing here

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