GSN launches Vegas Nights 2

Vegas Nights 2

Skill-based three-match game featuring real-money cash prizes released on GSN’s Cash Games site WorldWinner.com

GSN Digital has announced the launch of its latest skill-based cash game on GSN’s Cash Games site WorldWinner.com.

Vegas Nights 2 is a classic match-three casino-themed game which allows players to compete against each other for cash prizes and includes game features such as power boosts, multi-swap and a multiplier meter.

The new game, a sequel to the casino-themed match-three Vegas Nights, was released in conjunction with a $7,500 bonus sweepstakes prizing available throughout October and Richard Sweet, VP of marketing at GSN Digital, believes the game will find favour with its existing customer base.

“Vegas Nights 2 unites skill game elements with the familiar sights and sounds of a casino for a one-of-a-kind, top-quality experience our players can enjoy time and time again,” Sweet said. “We are pleased to award more than $7,500 in additional prizing through the Vegas Nights 2 Daily $250 Sweepstakes, giving players another incentive to come back every day to improve their skills,” he added.

Massachusetts-based GSN Digital placed 5th in Social Casino Intelligence’s recent Power 25 and previously released games based on television shows aired by its parent company including Wheel of Fortune and Deal or No Deal.

SCi Power 25 (Top 10)

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It’s all change at the top in our second look at the most powerful companies in social casino.

Welcome to the second SCi Power 25. Our expert panel, including the SCi team and industry insiders, helped us put together a list in which companies are ranked on a number of criteria including financial performance and scale, product, platform diversity and MAU numbers. It aims to give a fair and accurate reflection of where the power lies at the current time.

And what a difference a year makes. At the time of the first SCi Power 25 there could only ever be one company at the top of the list. Zynga was still the blue eyed boy of the sector with its eagerly awaited move into real-money gaming expected to mark a turning point for the nascent industry.

But then the wheels started to come off a little. A Q2 2012 earnings release in late July,  shortly after the first Power 25 was published, saw Zynga post a $22.8m loss. Then, just when it was looking at a comeback, a Q2 2013 loss and the announcement it was making 18% of its workforce redundant in an effort to refocus on mobile sent shares sliding again.

It ended the 12 months with the announcement of a new CEO and it’s worth noting its flagship social casino product Zynga Poker has continued to grow its revenues. However, its real-money launch has been somewhat underwhelming and Zynga Poker is under increasing pressure. As a result, we’ve seen a change at the top in this year’s list.

Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) takes the top spot after another impressive year. CIE has snapped up Buffalo Studios and the WSOP.com mobile app from Electronic Arts, as well as growing revenues to a point where it is arguably bigger than Zynga. Its Slotomania app is leading the way, but the whole portfolio is impressive, and its mobile growth is seriously impressive. With a focus on the social casino sector it is a worthy number one for 2013.

Closely following the top two is the increasingly impressive IGT, with its DoubleDown Casino continuing to rack up the revenues alongside huge MAU figures. The gap between IGT and the top two is very slim and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a further change next year. In such a dynamic sector, we would almost be disappointed if there wasn’t.

10 GREENTUBE/CERVO-MEDIA
HEAD OFFICE: Vienna, Austria
KEY PRODUCTS: Bingo Bash
MAU FOR JULY: N/A
Austrian business Cervo-Media has been a sleeper hit since its launch in January 2009, keeping a relatively low profile while generating an impressive $8.5m in Q2 revenues from mobile alone, according to Eilers Research. But it is let down by a limited product offering, with Pharaoh’s Way its only social casino title. Last December saw the firm sign a strategic agreement with Greentube, becoming a subsidiary of the European egaming
solutions provider, and it should be able to benefit from the increased clout that comes from an association with a strong and well-established real-money firm. If it can make that much money from one title on mobile, it could be a real threat with an expansion of product.

9 STORM8
HEAD OFFICE: Redwood City, US
KEY PRODUCTS: Shark Party Slots, Shark Party Bingo, Shark Party Poker
MAU FOR JULY: N/A
The California-based social gaming firm is a new entry on the Power 25 list thanks to
the huge success of its social casino subsidiary Shark Party. Storm8 was one of the first developers on the iOS Games Centre and is a major player on Android and Kindle Fire through casual titles such as Bubble Mania, with 400m downloads to date. Its simply named Slots, Bingo and Poker apps are available on the iOS platform, with the former by far its most successful with an estimated $6.25m in revenue in Q2, according to Eilers Research. It has no presence on Facebook so can’t be considered for a higher ranking, but its phenomenal success on mobile can’t be ignored.

8 GAMESYS
HEAD OFFICE: London, UK
KEY PRODUCTS: Jackpotjoy Slot
Machines, Bingo Friendzy
MAU FOR JULY: 1,034,212
With a social gaming studio comprising 80 people, there is no lack of effort put into social casino from the predominately real-money operator and owner of the JackpotJoy brand.
The launch of Facebook RMG last August through its Bingo Friendzy app has arguably not had a ground-breaking impact, though credit is due for taking the plunge before any others.
JackpotJoy Slots continues to perform strongly on Facebook, consistently racking up more than 1m MAU. Gamesys has shown progress, but a lot of the results are yet to be seen. Free-to-play and real-money poker offerings are in the pipeline representing Gamesys’ first foray into the space and it remains one to watch.

7 BIG FISH GAMES
HEAD OFFICE: Seattle, US
KEY PRODUCTS: Big Fish Casino
MAU FOR JULY: N/A
Big Fish is a newcomer in SCi’s Power 25 list and has broken in to the top 10 with its mobile offering gaining top marks from the panel. According to Eilers Research, Big Fish Casino is now the largest standalone social casino app on mobile/tablet, with net revenues of $14.5m and impressive 19% quarter-on-quarter growth. The operator is also one of the few social casino companies to move into the realm of real-money after launching an iOS version of its flagship game in the UK with real-money slots following a partnership with Betable.

6 BASH GAMING
(FORMERLY BITRHYMES)
HEAD OFFICE: Foster City, US
KEY PRODUCTS: Bingo Bash
MAU FOR JULY: 2,314,697
To reflect the company’s love of making games, BitRhymes rebranded to Bash Gaming in December and is one of the biggest mover’s in this year’s Power 25. Up from 17th position, Bash Gaming generated nearly $15m in total revenue during Q2 2013, split almost equally across Facebook and mobile. Bingo Bash is by far its biggest product offering, with more than 1.5m users per day and one of the top grossing games on iOS and Android devices. Despite leading the way in the bingo vertical, and with a multiplatform offering, the panel concluded its lack of product diversity held it back from a top five position.

5 GSN
HEAD OFFICE: Waltham, Massachusetts, US
KEY PRODUCTS: Games by GSN
MAU FOR JULY: 2,805,875
With a position of fifth in the Dystillr July MAU rankings and sixth overall in the Eilers Research Q2 2013 revenue rankings, it’s easy to see why GSN deserves its spot based on numbers alone. When you add in the scale of its parent company, its links to some powerful brands including Wheel of Fortune, and its broad product range, you can understand why it’s risen so high in the Power 25 list this year. Games by GSN is the home for its wide range of social casino games, which generated in the region of $15m in revenue during Q2 2013, according to Eilers Research, with more than a third of that coming through the mobile channel. That said, Games by GSN has been going backwards in terms of MAU in recent months, and it needs to return to growth to become one of the bigger hitters in the sector. For now, it remains a powerful firm with more potential than it has yet realised.

4 WILLIAMS
INTERACTIVE (WMS)
HEAD OFFICE: Waukegan, US
KEY PRODUCTS: Jackpot Party Casino Slots
MAU FOR JULY: 1,189,811
Last year, WMS’ ranking in the Power 25 was based largely on potential, and this potential has clearly been fulfilled. After launching in earnest in July 2012, the online arm of land-based slots giant WMS has seen its Jackpot Party social casino offering become the fastest growing app in both DAU and MAU according to metricsmonk’s figures for the year ended June 2013. Consistent across multiple channels with its $18m+ in Q2 revenues split roughly 2:1 between Facebook and mobile, it is good enough for a top five position in the former category and top 10 in the latter.
While growth on Facebook has been relatively flat in revenue terms, the opposite is the story for mobile. Growth of 61% quarter-on-quarter has helped the company increase its market share to 6%, as WMS has built on the June 2012 acquisition of Phantom EFX with the rollout of multiple social casino titles, the bulk in the slots vertical. The Jackpot Party iOS version is in the top 10 highest grossing social casino apps for both iPad and iPhone.
Social casino was singled out as a key contributing factor in its parent group Williams Interactive revenues and an Android version of the flagship social casino title is on the way. Following the landmark $1.5bn acquisition of its parent company by Scientific Games, Williams Interactive seems set for further growth and social casino is sure to play a major role in this. If it can come anywhere close to repeating the multi-channel real-money success of Jackpot Party, it could be pushing for a top three slot next year.

3 INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY/DOUBLEDOWN INTERACTIVE
HEAD OFFICE: Reno/Las Vegas, US
KEY PRODUCTS: Double Down Casino Slots & Poker
MAU FOR JULY: 7,013,566
The $500m headline figure attached to the January 2012 DoubleDown Interactive acquisition may have raised eyebrows at the time, but IGT has clearly been vindicated in its decision. DoubleDown Casino is the second highest ranking social casino app on Facebook, with only Zynga Poker having a higher MAU.
Bingo was added to the company’s flagship casino offering in September last year, and its revenues are estimated at around $44m for Q2 2013 by Eilers Research with a 16% rise against the previous quarter.
Mobile revenues topped $10m in the second quarter, securing a top five placing for IGT in that channel, with DoubleDown seeing a phenomenal 84% rise in mobile revenues in Q2. Since then it has agreed to integrate the DoubleDown Casino app into Playphone’s mobile social casino platform, as well as rolling out a suite of 10 mobile social slots based on its land-based titles. While IGT is ranked at number three, the gap between it and Zynga and CIE is very small and it would be no surprise to see it take on the number one spot next year.

2 ZYNGA
HEAD OFFICE: San Francisco, US
KEY PRODUCTS: Zynga Poker, Zynga Slingo, Zynga Slots
MAU FOR JULY: 34,072,957
It’s been a transitional year for Zynga in more ways than one. The firm has seen its share price drop like a stone, face a large reduction in headcount with 520 employees being laid off, the launch of real-money gaming and the appointment of a new CEO. The one time golden boy of the sector has had a bit of a kicking in the media and is in desperate need of a good news story, but there is no denying the continued strength of its social casino business. Zynga Poker contributes 22% of all Zynga gaming revenues.
Zynga continues to dominate MAU on Facebook for social casino with Zynga Poker, but all is not well with its star product. As of Q1 2013, the firm can still claim to have the biggest revenue generating product in Zynga Poker, with revenues growing by 7.8% year-on-year to $50.5m. Slotomania from CIE earned $46.6m in the same period, although CIE’s total revenues were $66.6m. But Q2 could be a different story. Zynga Poker suffered an estimated 16% drop in MAU during Q2 2013, according to Eilers Research, and told investors it is suffering from third-party sales of its poker chips eating into its revenues.
Its relatively weak performance in mobile is another area of concern, with the firm admitting it needs to work on this area, with only 22% of its revenue coming through the mobile channel in Q1. And while its real-money launch in the UK was a major development, it has yet to provide any big revenues, admitting it does not know if it will succeed in converting current players or attracting new players to its real-money game. The launch of RMG on Facebook in the UK should kick-start growth in this sector and any moves into new regulated markets, particularly in the US, could see a big change in fortunes.
For now, Zynga remains one of the key power players in this sector, with huge MAU and impressive revenues. But its problems, and lack of growth in social casino, mean it drops a place in this year’s rankings.

1 CAESARS INTERACTIVE
HEAD OFFICE: Montreal, Canada

KEY PRODUCTS: Slotomania, Caesars Casino, Bingo Blitz
MAU FOR JULY: 5,923,664
Last year’s number two takes the top spot on the SCi Power 25 this time around, and with good reason. The acquisition of last year’s fourth-placed firm Buffalo Studios moved it onto a new level, but it’s not as simple as 2+4=1. With revenues of $66.6m in Q1 2013, and 49% of those from mobile, Caesars Interactive Entertainment is arguably the largest social casino operator.
While Zynga has other battles to fight, CIE is heavily focused on the sector and continues to be acquisitive, snapping up the team behind its WSOP mobile app from Electronic Arts earlier this year. Its strong portfolio of games includes Caesars Casino and Bingo Blitz, as well as the WSOP mobile app, but the cash cow continues to be Slotomania.
Facebook revenues have been flat during the past six months, but there has been strong growth in mobile, and combined with its powerful revenue base, it had the edge over Zynga and IGT in this year’s rankings. Its ARPPU numbers are higher and its general ARPU numbers are lower than some of its competitors, which suggests it has a reliance on high- alue players. But its strengths outweigh its weaknesses.
A recent corporate restructuring at its parent company has seen CIE spun out into a new corporate entity called Caesars Growth Partners. With CIE stripped out from the land-based parent, it will be under increasing pressure to drive growth and we expect it to continue to lead from the front. And it is well-placed to capitalise on the launch of real-money gaming in both Nevada and New Jersey.
At a time when Zynga seems to be wobbling slightly, it would be easy to give the top spot to one of its rivals based on that alone. But the panel felt CIE was the rightful owner of the top spot on this year’s list on its own merit, and will continue to be one to watch in the next 12 months.

 

GSN launches Deal or No Deal Slots

DealorNoDeal-Screenshot1

Video slot based on popular gameshow goes live on the Games by GSN Facebook portal. 

GSN Digital has announced the launch of a slot based on the popular television show Deal or No Deal in partnership with Endemol.

The five-reel slot, which is now live on the operator’s Games by GSN Facebook gaming portal, features key elements of the programme, including a mini-game which acts as an abbreviated version of the TV show. Players select boxes at random, with the Banker making offers depending on which sums are revealed, and the game ends either when one such offer is accepted or the final box is opened.

Deal or No Deal has been syndicated on the Sony-owned GSN television channel since June 2009, and the game’s popularity in numerous territories has seen GSN Digital launch localised variants for Germany, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia.

In addition to its launch in the USA, the game is being adapted in different languages in major markets around the world including Germany, Italy, Spain and Scandinavia.

Speaking to Social Casino Intelligence in March, GSN Digital’s executive vice president of mobile and social games Jeff Karp (pictured) explained that launching content based on the channel’s most popular shows is a key component of the division’s growth strategy.

“We’re excited that we think we’ve continued to grow our base with existing products, and we think we have some new products which will appeal to new demographics and new audiences, and continue to build our new player base,” Karp commented.

Endemol Games managing director Jurian van der Meer added that the partnership with GSN “represents another milestone” for the Deal or No Deal brand.

“The format is a perfect fit for this kind of social casino game and we believe Deal or No Deal Slots will be a big hit with fans around the world,” van der Meer said.

Deal or No Deal Slots becomes the latest product based on GSN’s TV IP to go live, following the release of Wheel of Fortune Bingo last month.

GSN hires Majesco SVP Anderson

Job Opportunity Calssified

Former Turbine CEO joins to develop strategic and commercial partnerships to grow operator’s digital division.

GSN Digital has bolstered its team with the appointment of former Majesco Entertainment senior vice president of social and mobile games Jeff Anderson.

Anderson joins the operator as senior vice president of strategic planning and business development, reporting directly to GSN digital executive vice president Peter Blacklow. His new role sees him oversee the development of commercial and strategic partnerships to strengthen the division’s stakes-based gaming business across all platforms.

Commenting on Anderson’s hiring  Blacklow said: “GSN Digital continues to invest in hiring top senior management talent to help us meet our ambitious goals of growing our social, mobile and web games businesses.

“Jeff is a world-class talent in the digital games space, responsible for orchestrating many high profile, game-changing licensing and distribution deals.  We’re excited to have him join the team.”

A gaming industry veteran, Anderson joins GSN from Majesco, where he has worked since June 2011, after his sports gaming network Quick Hit Inc was acquired by the company. Previously he worked as CEO of Turbine, which he grew from a small massively multiplayer online role-playing game studio to a huge business developing games based on brands such as Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons.

“I am thrilled to become part of GSN Digital,” Anderson said of his appointment. “The company has done an impressive job expanding its business and platform offerings through organic growth as well as strategic acquisitions.  I look forward to working with the team to develop key relationships focused on strengthening current offerings as well as adding new games and ways to play them.”

The news comes just days after GSN announced the launch of a Wheel of Fortune-branded bingo game. The title is available on the operator’s dot.com portal, and will soon be added to its Games by GSN Facebook app.

GSN Digital launches Wheel of Fortune Bingo

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Game based on popular TV show becomes the second bingo title to be launched this year.

GSN Digital has launched Wheel of Fortune Bingo, a social casino title based on the popular daytime TV gameshow.

The game sees players spin the wheel, which drops yellow bingo balls, pink wilds, allowing players to mark off any number on their card, and orange letter balls, which help solve a word puzzle. For each correct letter, tokens are added to the puzzle bank, allowing players to win the amount accumulated by completing the word, while a bingo gives them the chance to spin the wheel once again to randomly determine the value of their win.

The game is currently available on GSN.com, and is soon to be added to the Games by GSN Facebook app, alongside existing titles based on the gameshow including the original Wheel of Fortune game and Wheel of Fortune Slots.

“Our millions of Wheel of Fortunes Slots fans have taken over 38 billion spins, proving that Wheel of Fortune content is in high demand,” executive vice president, mobile and social games for GSN Digital Jeff Karp explained.

“Wheel of Fortune BINGO is our answer to player demand for new Wheel of Fortune content as well as new game offerings. We’re excited to engage players by layering familiar Wheel of Fortune game show experiences with the popularity of Bingo.”

Wheel of Fortune Bingo becomes the second new bingo title launched by GSN this year, following ChaChingo Bingo, an update of its Bingo Blitz title – not to be confused with the Buffalo Studios app of the same name – which went live in late January.

The gameshow originally launched in 1975 in the United States, running for 16 years, and has been syndicated around the world, with a UK version presented by the likes of Nicky Campbell and John Leslie running from 1988 to 2001.

GSN launches ChaChingo Bingo

GSN_logos_grape

Updated version of GSN’s Bingo Blitz sweepstakes game features hourly prize draws.

GSN Digital has announced the launch of ChaChingo Bingo, a redeveloped version of its Bingo Blitz product, allowing players to win a jackpot of up to US$5,000.

ChaChingo Bingo features hourly sweepstake draws, with a starting prize pot of $1,500, with the amount increasing by $50 each time players fail to win the jackpot. Players are also awarded with GSN’s virtual currency Oodles, and Tokens, which are used to play the operator’s social casino titles, for matching at least one number in the prize draw.

The game is an updated version of its Bingo Blitz title –unrelated to the app developed by the Caesars-owned Buffalo Studios – which allowed players to enter a daily sweepstake draw. Commenting on the launch, Jeff Karp, who joined as executive vice president of mobile and social games in September last year, said:

“Following the success of Bingo Blitz, we saw an opportunity to bring a new energy and excitement to Bingo with more chances to win.

“Players come to GSN to have fun and experience the thrill of winning, and GSN ChaChingo Bingo offers them the opportunity to win cash without spending a dime in the process,” Karp added.

Ex-Tagged VP Pedersen moves to GSN

Former social games VP for discovery network to work under Jeff Karp in new role.

Andrew Pedersen has left his role at Tagged to become chief studio officer of GSN, the operator has announced.

The former vice president and general manager of social games for the social discovery network will take charge of GSN’s virtual currency game production across online, mobile and social gaming platforms, based in the company’s San Francisco office. A former Electronic Arts employee, he will work under fellow EA alumnus Jeff Karp, who joined GSN as executive vice president of mobile and social games in September this year, just a week after his departure from Zynga.

Commenting on Pedersen’s appointment, Karp welcomed the “wealth of experience” he would bring to the business.

“His creative talent and business expertise are exactly what we need to continue delivering the highest quality games and the best possible entertainment experience to our players,” Karp added. 

Before joining Tagged in May 2011, Pedersen served as social games start-up Offspring, helping oversee the business’ acquisition by NeoEdge. Prior to that he spent seven years with EA, working on the company’s Pogo franchise as well as developing titles including Poppit, Word Whomp and a number of casino products.

“GSN Digital was a pioneer in the social games space and has since built one of the leading social casinos on Facebook with extensions on the Web and mobile platforms,” Pedersen said. “I’m excited to be a part of the company’s continued success as we look for innovative ways to keep players engaged while attracting new ones across all platforms.”

Karp joins GSN as mobile-social games chief

Former Zynga marketing and revenue chief to head up GSN’s mobile-social gaming arm.

Zynga’s former chief marketing and revenue officer Jeff Karp has joined Game Show Network (GSN) in a newly-created role – just a week after he left the social gaming giant.

Karp will report to the head of GSN Digital Peter Blacklow as executive vice president of mobile and social games, taking responsibility for the firm’s virtual currency business across mobile, social and online gaming platforms, starting work on 24 September.

In a statement released today, Blacklow spoke of his excitement at having made such a high-profile hire: “Jeff has an impressive track record in building some of the most popular businesses at both Zynga and EA.

“We are thrilled to attract someone of Jeff’s caliber to GSN as we expand our virtual currency offering and enhance our player experience across platforms,” he added.

Commenting on his appointment Karp said: “I am very excited to join the GSN team, which has already built leading cross-platform virtual currency game businesses, including the GSN Casino mobile app, the Games by GSN Facebook app and the virtual casino on GSN.com.  I am eager to help GSN take these businesses to new levels of success.”

News of Karp’s resignation from Zynga emerged last week. At the time, he was expected to remain at the business “pursuant to a transition and separation agreement” sees him work through a handover period ending 22 September. It also emerged that he would be awarded a severance payment equal to three months of his basic salary, with Zynga also covering the cost of his health insurance for over this period.

GSN president and CEO David Goldhill explained Karp’s hire would see him tasked with managing one of the most important departments in the business: “Jeff will be leading businesses which are crucial to continuing GSN’s growth.

“With his demonstrated expertise and strategic vision, Jeff is the right executive to lead us in achieving our ambitious goals,” Goldhill said.