Tapjoy is the latest company to throw it’s the mobile and social publishing ring. Currently, Tapjoy is a leading distribution channel for social and mobile apps, reaching 200 million mobile users and facilitating 1.5 million app installs a day. Tapjoy charges app companies a price per install to each its users, which game companies pay to help them get into Apple’s Top 50 List (the “retail shelf of mobile apps”).
With Tapjoy’s publishing program (entitled “self-publishing”), Tapjoy will give its app partners marketing credits in return for undisclosed business terms, obviously involving a revenue share on the back-end. Unlike other publishing programs, developers retain control of their IP, which if you ever talk to a game developers, means a lot. Tapjoy may also fund game titles as well.
During GDC, I noted that everyone wanted to be a game app publisher. The reason is that app discovery on Apple’s iTunes and Google’s Android marketplaces suck. This is due to the fact that there are thousands of apps released a day and that Apple and Google have not staffed up accordingly.
Apple, Google, and Facebook for that matter, have good teams of people who do a the best job they can showcasing what’s new and noteworthy. The problem is, even with 10% unemployment and the huge amount of money being made, the game teams at these companies are small.
The thought occurs to me, if a company like Apple just opened 100 jobs to staff up their team, they could integrate a rocking app discovery system, they would earn out their salaries a thousand-fold, and there would be no need publishers to stand in between the developers and app stores.
Nonetheless, it’s merely a thought. Until Apple steps up, there will be a huge opportunity for app publishers to fill the void, especially as games continue to go cross-platform.
Tapjoy, with an intelligent distribution apparatus and channel of 200 million consumers, is now the one of the companies to beat. It’s a far cry from a year ago when Tapjoy/Offerpal was left for dead during the Scamville scandal (the details of their resurrection are here in my recent Tapjoy interview).
It’ll be interesting if how big the channel conflict will be between Tapjoy’s distribution and publishing business. If you are a game publisher like Electronic Arts, why pay Tapjoy to distribute your game when that money will then be used to compete with you in publishing app games?
It’ll also be interesting to see if Tapjoy’s move pushes companies like Zynga and Rovio into the app publishing business.