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Wooga's Diamond Dash game rides social mobile wave

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 4 Jan 2012 14:22 GMT
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PARIS (Reuters), Jan 3 - More than 10 million Facebook users play glitzy Diamond Dash each month, according to developer Wooga, making it one of the most popular games on the social networking site.

Now the game, which requires tapping on as many groups of gems of the same colour as possible within 60 seconds to accumulate points, is also available on iPhone and iPad, as part of an increasing trend to make social games mobile.

"On mobile, most games have been for single players," Wooga co-founder and Chief Executive Jens Begemann told Reuters in an interview at LeWeb, a conference in Paris late last year where about 3,500 of the world's top digital experts and entrepreneurs from 60 countries meet each year to discuss the state of the tech industry.

Diamond Dash players can now compete with each other across mobile devices and desktop machines.

With Diamond Dash, it's not about beating the game it's about beating your friends, Begemann said. "You compete in a weekly tournament and challenge your friends. You can also send small gifts to them that will help them in the game."

"A big focus for us in 2012 is to launch a number of social mobile games and to expand our business from Facebook where we have 35 million active users, but we are looking at bringing them mobile," Begemann added.

Wooga is the third largest games developer on Facebook after Zynga and Electronic Arts (ERTS.O), according to AppData.

Other Wooga games include Brain Buddies, Bubble Island, Monster World, Happy Hospital and Magic Land.

WOMEN GAMERS

About 70 percent of people playing Wooga's Facebook games each month are women and the average player is around 40 years old and female, according to the Berlin-based company, which was founded in 2009.

Wooga has tried to move away from a more traditional gaming industry focus of developing games for 15- to 30-year-old men and concentrated instead on making them accessible to everyone, Begemann said.

Most people playing and paying for games on Facebook are American woman above the age of 35, Julien Codorniou, Facebook's Paris-based head of platform partnerships told Reuters at LeWeb.

"In just four years, Facebook has become the largest gaming platform in the world - we have 250 million people playing games on Facebook every month," Codorniou said.

The Facebook platform, where independent developers create applications, has created more value than any other gaming platform in the software industry, Codorniou said.

Revenue is generated through advertising on game pages and through the sale of virtual goods to facilitate progress through the game.

Women became more involved in gaming between 2005 and 2010, according to a study of demographic shifts in gaming on console, handheld devices and online conducted by consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates Inc.

The study showed that on average women increased their console gaming more than 5 percent across all age groups in the 12- to- 54 age group.

The number of women playing web-based games increased in the 12- to 34- age group in the same period, but declined in the 35- to 54- age group, the study showed.

Consumer studies show that the number of gamers are not necessarily increasing, they are moving to visible social platforms on the web, said Phil Shpilberg, vice-president of marketing at Fingerprint, a San Francisco-based company publishing games for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch for 3- to 8-year olds to play with their parents.

"Facebook has a huge head start on social games," Shpilberg, who worked on the Magid study, said in an interview. "The kind of games that have reached massive scale on Facebook are spreading and becoming interesting because you play them with your friends."

Facebook games appeal more in general to women than console games, he added.

According to Codorniou, Diamond Dash is a great example of how Facebook is focused on providing developers with the tools they need to make their apps social across any platform.

"Now that it's available across the iPhone, iPad and on Facebook.com. This makes it possible for you to play a game with your friends and send them requests from wherever you are, on the device of your choice."

(Writing by Julie Mollins, editing by Paul Casciato)

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