2010 was indeed a busy year for social game developers in Korea. New social gaming platforms were launched by major portal sites, many new start-ups as well as online game developers have entered the market, and success stories from small start-ups were introduced here and there. With the growing interest from both inside and outside the market, information about the current trend becomes more pressing. And still, the thought that useful information must be shared around has unchanged and thanks to Nate AppStore for being on the same side by sharing precious information with everyone.
Archive for Category ‘Trends‘
14 Dec. 2010, Nate launched its new mobile social gaming service, Nate AppStore Beta Application for Androids. Now available for download at T-Store, Nate AppStore Beta Application allows users to access social games on Nate AppStore in Adroid 2.2 (Froyo) devices.
With just one time log-in, users can access their favorite games in “My Apps” page or full list of games in “Apps List” page. Game data as well as friends list is also interlinked with web-based platform, which makes it convenient for users to play and manage their games anywhere at any time. Users can also purchase virtual items with Dotori just like they do on web.
As a tip from Nate, puzzle/quiz games are more suitable for mobile devices since it generates smaller traffic compared to other genres. Initially taking off with six games, Nate AppStore expects more and more games to join the mobile stream. Since smart phone users mark up to 6.8 million (aprox. 15% of Korean population) and has grown 8.5 times the previous year (2009), this trend is expected to enlarge the social gaming pie even bigger. Androids appear to be strong in the Korean smart phone market, yet to maximize the coverage of smart phone users, developing mobile service for iPhone is pressing. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that taking the initiative to expand to mobile devices is a great plus to both Nate and developers.
*** View introductory movie clip of Nate AppStore Beta Application ***
Unlike Facebook and other major social game platform, not too many about Korean social game industry is revealed to the public. On one hand, it may be an “Asian courtesy” for platform service providers to hide its customers’ private information from their competitors. On the other hand, it may create an entrance barrier and suppress new developers from entering the market. Nevertheless, believing in the fact that freedom of information is harmless to fair market competition, Rubicon Games Inc. suggested Nate AppStore Open Social Team to share their statistics and information as much as possible. Gratefully, Nate AppStore agreed upon revealing more information for both domestic and foreign developers who are interested in publishing their games in Korea. However, please note that stats were given in bundles of genre, due to privacy issues.
Nate AppStore opend its NateOn Messenger Buddy API in Sept. 2010. In one of our previous blog post, we introduced NateOn Messenger and mentioned how Nate AppStore could utilize it to break through viral issues it’s been wrestling with. It is worthy of praise that NateOn is making progress by expanding its user pool from “1 chon network” (1 chon refers to friends list within Cyworld) to NateOn users, but on the other hand, it also made the gaming environment more complex for both developers and users.
Currently Nate AppStore games are developed based on Cyworld friends called “1 chon”. Games were then limited by Nate to only 300 1chons. With the introduction of NateOn Messenger Buddy API, users can now play games with 1000 friends and developers can now choose to develop games with:
1) separate network (1 chon/ NateOn) and separate personal data
2) separate network (1 chon/ NateOn) but inter-linked personal data
3) combined network (1 chon + NateOn) but separate personal data
4) combined network (1 chon + NateOn) and inter-linked personal data
As such, there are many different ways to play the game now, and developers are now open to variety of models to choose from. Aside from the methods listed above, developers can also utilize NateOn Messenger to develop synchronous games. Since messengers provide real-time log-in information of friends, developers can utilize synchronous functions in their games more flexibly.
The change in the platform, however, can also be a good opportunity for many developers. The ability to grasp and capitalize the shift is pressing for those smaller developers hidden under the shadow of the big players. The change of development environment applies to everyone and it’s the developers’ ability to stand out among the rest. This is the point of time where creativity kicks in.
Overall, NateOn Messenger’s 35 million user pool is indeed an attractive in-house resource for Nate. Taking the initiative to expand seems to be a half success since we can expect some spillover of users from one container to the other. Moreover, synchronism is now a new option for developers who are willing expand their field of genres even more. Despite of all the new features, the floor is now yielded to the developers to show everything they’ve got. We look forward to applying some creative ideas on how we could utilize the change of rules in our upcoming games.
“Is Nate AppStore any better than Facebook in terms of social games platform service?” It’s a question that most people in Korean social game industry once had in their mind. Oh well, it would be a rash judgment to say which is better over the other but one thing for sure is that Nate has been making some good progress recently.
Then how exactly is Nate AppStore progressing? As I’ve mentioned briefly in my past article, Nate AppStore’s primary users are from its SNS, Cyworld. But apart from Cyworld, Nate also has a big pool of users using its messenger service called NateOn. Before moving on to more details, a brief overview of NateOn is prerequisite.
NateOn is the biggest messenger service in Korea which has accumulated total 35 million users and 15 million MAU as of Aug. 2010. Actually MSN Messenger was the leading messenger since 1999 but it yielded first place to NateOn in 2005. NateOn promoted aggressive marketing strategy since 2002 by giving out 100 free SMS to its SK Telecom users and 50 free SMS to KTF and LG Telecom users. Later in 2003, the outburst of Cyworld boom also contributed to the success of NateOn due to the linkage system with Cyworld mini blogs. The synchronized NateOn and Cyworld created a synergy effect and led to the growth of both platforms.
And once again with its past success model, Nate is using its in-house viral resources to position its AppStore as the leader of the social games platform market. NateOn recently started a promotion, introducing a new linkage system with AppStore by adding short cuts into “Quick Launch” on the bottom. By adding short cuts in NateOn, users can directly go to the game page more efficiently.
Moreover, toast messages appear whenever a friend invites the user to try out a new game or challenge each other. In this way, NateOn becomes more than just a “chat” messenger. It is starting to send game feeds and let the user customize it into an apps-oriented messenger. Depending on what the user puts more focus into, NateOn can become the perfect messenger for various usages.
On the other hand, however, NateOn only limits the toast messages to personal messages. For example the user can’t see what other people are doing if the event has no direct relation to the user. The user is only limited to seeing direct challenge or invite messages. This may be one of the improvements NateOn can make, where the user can see his/her friend’s activities from the messenger. Facebook, for example, let the users post game feeds on their wall, which would appear on their friends’ news feed when they log in. Ignoring the fact that many people might consider game feeds as spam, at least the virality seems resolute. One may argue that there is a distinct difference between a “wall” and a “messenger”, but if NateOn is striving to become more AppStore friendly, it needs to offer more ways to become MORE VIRAL.