Social game companies travel far and wide to expand beyond Facebook

Go West, young social game developer. And East, and North, and South if you truly want to diversify beyond Facebook and generate more revenues for your social game.

That’s the gist of Paul Hyman’s article in Gamasutra, Beyond Facebook: Global Social Game Opportunities.

By now, you know the story. Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla in social games distribution with 500 million users worldwide, 40% of which are reported to play games on the network. Facebook can make you (Zynga road the coattails of Facebook for a long time) or break you (LOLapps is surely wishing there was a Plan B about right now).

There are options beyond Facebook, but you need to localize to global markets and sell your games very far away from the US market. Examples are:

  • In Brazil, Mentez 4 out of 5 of the most popular games on Google’s Orkut and reaches 22 million active users a week.
  • i-Jet offers a localization and distribution services for game developers to reach social networks in fast growing Russia and Eastern European markets.
  • And of course, there is DeNA in Japan, which is expanding into the US with its purchase of ngmoco this past month and claims that it makes 15X ARPU of Zynga.

I agree with the writer that there is there is a social gaming world beyond Facebook. But, it’s not as simple as expand overseas to fix the dependence on Facebook problem.

Localization is not easy. You need to either work with a partner (e.g., any of those above) or to have massive scale to do so.

It’s no coincidence, that the top companies expanding beyond the US and Facebook are Zynga and CrowdStar, and they have deep pockets and are buying their way into those markets.

If you do work with a localization partner, they will take a cut on each sale, so you have to factor that into your equation.

Finally, Facebook is not just standing still. Due to its innovative crowdsourcing approach, Facebook is growing like a weed across the world. The fastest growing market for Facebook? Indonesia (who knew). You can escape Facebook’s grasp in the US by expanding to other social platforms and devices globally, but surely, Facebook’s social games dominance will follow you around the world.

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