While Zynga has had high-profile struggles to adapt to the rapid growth of mobile gaming, Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of the Social Gaming Network, said he’s found a solution — MasterKey, his company’s just-launched technology for cross-platform game development.
DeWolfe, who also co-founded Myspace, has been talking about the vision behind MasterKey for a while, for example telling me in February that this will be “the year of convergence” and that SGN would be able “develop once and publish anywhere.” DeWolfe said today’s launch means MasterKey is now “fully deployed” across all the games that SGN is publishing, including Panda Jam and Bingo Blingo.
The aim of the new platform is to enable SGN’s developers — and eventually third-party developers, too — to build games that can run on Facebook, iOS, and Android. The process, DeWolfe said, isn’t quite as simple as developing a Facebook game and then instantly converting it to mobile, but compared to the normal porting process, “it is like hitting a button.” (More concretely, SGN said that MasterKey can save up to 80 percent in conversion time.)
“You shouldn’t force a developer to either build on Facebook or on iOS or on Android, and make them decide on one,” he said. “That puts the small guy at a disadvantage.”
DeWolfe acknowledged that mobile and social game mechanics aren’t interchangeable, and that some Facebook games don’t really make sense on mobile. However, he pointed to casino games like Bingo Blingo as one category where the SGN strategy seems to be working. He argued that mobile and social gaming are ultimately “the same thing” — you just have to put some thought into each experience up front: “The mobile game as an afterthought won’t work.”
He added that SGN has significantly increased revenue quarter-over-quarter, is now profitable, and after a year and a half without acquisitions, may be ready to do some more buying. (Under its original name of MindJolt, SGN started out as a rollup of several gaming companies, and in fact acquired the company that gave it the SGN name.)
“We think it’s a buyer’s market out there,” DeWolfe said.