CEO of Beijing-based game developer CMUNE Ludovic Bodin recently spoke at the China Game Developer’s Conference on what he views as the rise of a combination of hardcore social and mobile gaming. CMUNE’s most prominent title is the 3D First Person Shooter (FPS) called Uberstrike, which was ranked the #1 browser-based FPS game worldwide with 1.3 million monthly average users (MAU) and the #1 FPS on Facebook. The game also has 7 million registered players on the CMUNE platform.
1) Don’t listen to the crowd
Bodin bemoaned how the emergence of Zynga helped to enforce the misconception that social gaming on platforms like Facebook is casual and targeted at non-hardcore users. Bodin said that casual gaming is 5-10% of the gaming market and essentially not the business. He put up a picture of a middle-aged, librarian-type woman and said that it should not be anyone’s target customer. I am not sure if this was an attempt at humor because I don’t know how serious to take people focused on building games revolving around killing, but it was funny. Bodin called FPS a multi-billion dollar genre, citing Halo 4’s US $220 million in revenues in its first 24 hours.
2) Never underestimate the potential of a new platform
Kabam previously derived most of its revenues from Facebook, but now the bulk of their revenues are mobile, specifically on iOS. Bodin also noted that there are already three FPS games in the Top 25 grossing action games on iOS.
3) Invest heavily in your most valuable asset: your community
CMUNE puts particular emphasis on empowering users to not only participate but create within games. Their “Blue Box Project” saw a user designed map accumulate five million plays in its first 30 days.
Ludovic Bodin’s Industry Predictions
5) Hardcore games will be the top grossing of web and social games
4) Immersive, console-like games will have the fastest growth on mobile and tablets
3) Cross-platform and cross-device games will dominate
2) New Leaders from Asia (China) will emerge and dominate gaming globally (Bodin cited China’s Tencent)
1) Gaming will be closely tethered to social. Bodin is very bullish on Facebook and the importance of social’s relationship with gaming in general. This contrasts somewhat with Kabam’s diversification strategy away from Facebook and apparent dissatisfaction with the platform.
Additionally, Bodin does not see entrenched gaming companies adjusting to the sector’s transformation effectively. He believes companies like EA are hobbled by size and an inability to commit to new directions internally.
Like Kabam’s Li, Bodin did not elaborate on any short-term plans to bring Uberstrike to the Chinese market, despite the fact it was made in China, and even went as far as to say “we’re not really in China”. Bodin’s cofounder Benjamin Joffe previously touched on this irony in a TechCrunch post about Facebook:
You read that correctly: a cutting-edge free-to-play multiplayer 3-D shooter inside Facebook. Made in China, where Facebook is blocked. Oh, the irony.
UberStrike’s user base is global (China excepted) and our number 1 market is the US. You might wonder: why not launch in China first? Well, the revenue share offered by local social networks Tencent and RenRen and the market size for social games were not so motivating. RenRen offers on average 50%, and the revenue (as seen above) is not great, while Tencent used to offer 90/10, unfortunately the 10% was for developers. We now hear it’s a 70/30 split (30% for you), though your mileage may vary. Overall, about a dozen social game companies make real money in China, with over 10 million MAU, but the revenue per user is generally 1/5th to 1/10th of a US user, so better grow in the US first.
Like Kabam, CMUNE seems focused on locking up its existing markets before it pours resources into complex and demanding China. CMUNE previously disclosed an investment from Atomico, a global venture capital firm led by Skype and Kazaa co-founder Niklas Zennström.
Learn more about the 5th Annual China Game Developer’s Conference.
James Hopkins is an American working for Alibaba.com in Hangzhou, China. He previously lived in the tech-heavy district of Nanshan in Shenzhen. The views expressed here are his own and do not represent those of his employer.
tips [at] techrice [dot] com