If you were a doubter that 2011 will be the year of social mobile, two announcements today should relieve you of any doubt.
First of all, Pocket Gems, makers of the Tap series of social games on the iPhone announced they have raised $5 million in funding led by Sequoia Capital. Pocket Gems games include Tap Zoo, Tap Farm, Tap Jungle and have been downloaded more than 15 million times. $5 million and 15 million downloads…those are big numbers!
In other news, as reported earlier today on Gamezebo, DeNA, announced that they are launching the a worldwide mobile destination, Mobage, in April 2011.
The are two curious things about these two press releases:
One, though DeNA/ngmoco are designing for Apple iOS devices, there is no mention of Apple’s Game Center. If Apple remains the dominant device player, there will need to be a reason for a game developer to work with Mobage since at the end of the day, distribution is king. Mobage is big in Japan, but they will have to play nice with Apple to be just as big in the North American market. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
Two, neither press releases mentions Facebook whatsoever. Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla in social gaming, but there seems to be a consensus in the games industry (game developers, investors) that Apple has done a good job creating an ecosystem for social games to make money and Facebook has not. Investors and game companies are voting with their wallets, and increasingly, they are picking Apple as a partner for the future over Facebook. And because they are also investing in Android, they are also picking Google over Facebook as well.
Right now the winners in social games are Zynga and Facebook. If Apple is the future, however, all bets are off in 2011.