Last week we attended the Browsergames Forum 2009 in Frankfurt. This forum/conference brought together people and companies from the browser based games area. Germany is a serious location for all browser games (BigPoint, Travian Games, Innogames …) so it wasn’t really surprising that 90% of all attendees were German as well, but we also met people from Bulgaria, Portugal and Israel.
Recently, we have been developing two mobile browser based games for UK clients (news about those soon here) and this conference was perfect for us to see what is going on in this market, what are the upcoming trends and how to make money in this area.
There were several talks, with topics ranging from programing, monetizing, financing to marketing and legal topics and they answered most of our questions above. Unlike typical web startups it seemed to me that browser game companies do not struggle with finding their business model and earning money. They make (in many cases loads of) money, especially by selling items to users.
And options for these item sales are virtually unlimited. Patrick Streppel (CEO Gamigo Games AG) talked about the possibilities. His company had replaced fantasy cars for real and licensed cars (such as BMW, Audi, …) in a game, because the users wanted that and it felt more natural to them and accordingly sales increased vastly. Another interesting story was that in the game you can buy golf clubs which can be used 100,000 times and then have to be replaced by a new one. In another game the users can buy an insurance for their sword in order to be protected against damage. “Buy one, get one free” campaigns or bundle sales are very popular too. There were also some companies offering monetisation models for free-to-play games, such as SponsorPay or fatfoogoo. With these players can basically get premium services or virtual goods/money in games by doing surveys or signing up for other services etc.
Most of the game companies act international due to their international user base. For example the well-known Pennergame (Farbflut Entertainment GmbH) is available in five languages, has 3.5 mio registered users and 3 bn page impressions worldwide. Most of their revenue still comes from advertising and merchandising, but they also started selling items in the game now.
Other big trends in the browser game market are Facebook-based games and 3D-Graphics.
I really enjoyed the conference. The browser game market is really huge. Interestingly, no one was talking about the upcoming opportunities in the mobile web space, especially the app store topic wasn’t considered at all. I am pretty sure that we will also see a lot of growth in this area soon. And who knows, maybe we will be presenting something about the mobile browser game market at the next Browsergame Forum in 2010.