When Yahoo! bought Playerscale last year, we were wondering when they were going to do with it (much like we’ve wondered what they plan to do with the other hundred startups they seem to buy every other week).  

Today, Yahoo! launched the Yahoo! Games Network, offering distribution on Yahoo! and back-end infrastructure services to authenticate players, monetize games via in-app purchases and advertising, social sharing, hosting, and analytics across multiple platforms.

Yahoo! also re-launched its Yahoo! Games channel with a responsive design across the Web, iOS, and Android, re-designed Yahoo! Games classic games like Pool and Poker, and third party games including KingsRoad, Ballistic, Rise of Mythos, Bingo Blingo, and Vegas World.



The new Yahoo! Games homepage


For its back-end services, Yahoo! Is charging 0% (if less than 5000 daily active users) to 10% of revenues (it’s a pretty darn good deal) and 30% for distribution and sales via its web site.  Yahoo! claims its distribution reaches 800 million users, of which 400 million users are mobile.  But, let’s be honest — it’s questionable how many of those users are gamers.  If they were all gamers and on mobile, Yahoo! would be making a lot more money from mobile app advertising like Facebook does.

A lot of Yahoo!’s traffic comes from its homepage, and its new game initiatives are strangely not featured on its homepage today, given the big announcements.

Also, when you access Yahoo!’s classic games like Pool from an iOS or Android device, you are offered the opportunity to download the app to your phone.  A very easy way to track how successful Yahoo! is with its Games Network and distribution will be to track how well its own games do in terms of rankings on the App Store and Google Play.  It’s too early to tell, but we’ll be sure to come back in a few weeks and report how well their games are doing.

Yahoo!’s new games strategy seems to be a mix of what Facebook offered five years ago with what other cross-platform back-end service companies have been offering for the past year.  But just because Yahoo! is late to the party doesn’t mean it’s not exciting news.  

The back-end services seem to be a good deal, and developers are clamoring for any opportunity to be less dependent on Google or Apple for sales and distribution.  The Yahoo! Gamers Network isn’t a big deal yet, but it’s a start.  And it could end up becoming something big.  Just depends on what gaming startup Marissa Mayer buys next to add to the mix.