Guest post by Chris Carvalho, Kabam COO
Kabam is poised to disrupt the overall games market by leveraging the social Internet to create a game experience that keeps users engaged and by utilizing a free-to-play virtual goods model where consumers only pay for what they want once they have derived value from playing the game.
At the top of the funnel, Kabam’s games are discoverable by social tools that leverage relationships. Kabam leverages the cloud-based nature of the social Internet to facilitate frictionless sign up and game initiation. There’s no hardware required (just internet access), no software to load or download, no payment upfront (since we are a free-to-play model). Simply point, click and you’re on your way to playing one of our games.
Once signed in to a game, a player can invite existing friends from their social graph to play online with them, adding to their social interaction with current relationships. Interestingly enough, it’s also common for players to make new friends within their game play experience and then incorporate these new relationships into their social graph.
Social tools have also enhanced Kabam’s ability to utilize alliances in games. Users can join with over 100 other players to form alliances to play with and against other real people/alliances in real time. Alliances can meet online in real time in one of our persistent worlds, establish strategies, assign responsibilities and then go execute their plan. We recently conducted a survey among Kingdoms of Camelot heavy users: 76% indicated “I have made new friends in my Alliance and enjoy playing with them” as the number one reason they play the game.
From a business standpoint, fostering this tight-knit community helps contribute to greater game engagement and player retention, which are the key variables in determining the business potential of a social game — the more involved a player is, and the longer they stay involved, the greater their potential lifetime value.
For a cost perspective, Kabam’s model takes significant risk out of the game development. Retail games have a high cost of production and distribution ($20-$40MM is not unusual and costs for major titles are increasingly exceeding $100MM) and can take years before they are released. Once the game ships, the bulk of the work is done; the developer can only cross their fingers and hope they’ve produced a hit.
Conversely, Kabam games have a significantly lower cost of initial production ($1MM range) and take only months to launch. Once released, the fun really begins. Kabam continuously adds new features, optimizes game play, and makes fixes that are all informed by the players’ activity which can be monitored in real time.