While giants like Facebook and Twitter try to package their acquisitions like crash-testing service Crashlytics or mobile-backend-as-a-service Parse into a suite of services that will entice app makers into their fold, gaming companies are doing the exact same thing for their communities.
China’s Chukong has added Facebook support for its Cocos2d-x game engine and partnered with a slew of mobile middleware companies from Scientific Revenue to Vungle to offer mobile developers support on everything from dynamic pricing on in-app purchases to attribution. The three other startups Chukong paired with also include Chartboost, Kochava and Playfab.
The company, which is one of the bigger mobile game developers in mainland China, is trying to be a sort of Swiss army knife with tentacles into first-party game development, publishing and developer support through the Cocos2d-x gaming engine. As of the summer, games based on the engine have seen 2.5 billion downloads globally. The company reportedly considered and then scrapped plans to raise $150 million through an IPO this year on the bet that its platform and advertising revenue will grow into a more solid revenue workhorse later. That would give the company a better valuation and revenue multiple than a conventional gaming studio.
Originally developed six years ago by an Argentinian developer named Ricardo Quesada, the open source framework Cocos2d was later branched by a Chinese developer named Zhe Wang. Chukong started supporting and promoting this particular branch as a way for developers to easily build cross platform games across Android and iOS. Developers like Seattle’s Big Fish games use it to create titles like Big Fish casino. The Facebook partnership will make it easier for mobile developers to port their existing titles to the Facebook platform and add features like log-in and the social networks’ identity layer.
Meanwhile, a set of partnership with five middleware companies will help developers out with pricing, advertising and user acquisition. Kochava, a competitor to HasOffers, provides attribution so that developers know exactly where they’re getting their users from.
Scientific Revenue offers an API that will do dynamic pricing so that studios can price their virtual currencies correctly and tailor them to different user groups. For instance, customers in developed countries probably have different price sensitivities than customers in emerging markets, where they likely earn less income per year. Scientific Revenue’s business model earns
a 10 percent cut of an undisclosed share of the revenue lift it provides compared to a control group of players who see the developer’s original pricing. (Small edit here: Scientific Revenue only takes that revenue share if the developer sees at least a 10 percent lift in revenues over the control group.)
Playfab is a new company from Popcap veteran James Gwertzman. It’s like a mobile-backend-as-a-service or Parse-like solution specifically designed with gaming companies in mind. Vungle, which we’ve already covered before, initially started out as a video mobile advertising network and is branching out into other monetization products. Chartboost also initially started out with a narrower focus on cross-promotion between games, and has been branching out into analytics and targeting products.
What Chukong is doing mirrors what’s happening across the industry. Unity Technologies recently acquired Applifier and Playnomics to offer developers more of a one-stop shop for video advertising and analytics on top of the Unity gaming engine. Meanwhile, Twitter unveiled Fabric last week. It’s a mobile developer platform that pairs solutions from some of its previous acquisitions like Crashlytics and MoPub into a suite of services supporting monetization and crash testing. Facebook has a three-pronged approach with Parse, mobile app install ads and its identity layer to offer mobile developers. The tacit goal for many of these companies is to bring as many mobile developers into a network or family, so that these platforms can maximize mobile advertising or virtual currency revenue later.