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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.