10. ARISTOCRAT/PRODUCT MADNESS
(2013 position: 18th)
Product Madness has almost doubled its revenues on a year-on-year basis, according to Eilers Research. The growth has all been due to its ﬂagship Heart of Vegas app on Facebook, which launched last July, and was its ﬁrst app to incorporate Aristocrat’s land-based content. However, Product Madness’ other apps such as Hollywood Spins, which were all developed prior to its acquisition by Aristocrat, have been trending lower over the past year and a small mobile presence prevents the company from moving
PlayStudios has had a phenomenal 12 months, shooting up this year’s Power 25 from 20th to take a worthy top-10 position. Its unique approach of offering real-life rewards at casinos owned by its partner MGM Resorts, which is believed to own approximately 20% of the company, has clearly proven a success with its myVEGAS app recording 2.5 million
MAU on Facebook, according to Dystillr. And the operator admits to entering the social casino market relatively late, which makes its growth even more impressive. Total revenues were quite evenly split between Facebook and mobile, while the launch of new products could see the company achieve an even higher position next year.
8. BALLY TECHNOLOGIES/DRAGONPLAY
(2013: 12th – Dragonplay)
Unlike many of its competitors in the land-based casino sector, Bally Technologies had no social casino presence until relatively recently when it acquired Tel Aviv-based social casino operator Dragonplay for an estimated $100m. When Bally acquired the operator, it had generated $10m in EBITDA during the prior 12 months, implying a 22-25% EBITDA margin according to Eilers Research estimates. The gaming machine and technology supplier posted record quarterly revenues of $249m earlier this year and has the potential to become one of the strongest players in the social casino industry. Dragonplay maintains its position as one of the biggest Android publishers, which is estimated to account for approximately 90% of its mobile revenues, and has set itself the target of increasing its presence on iOS. Strong contender for a top ﬁve position next year.
7. HIGH 5 GAMES
Another big mover this year is High 5 which has climbed from 17th to seventh, with its number of monthly active players effectively double that of 2013. The launch of its new Asia-themed product Shake the Sky, which offers more than 30 region-speciﬁc games for Asian players, shows ambition and could put the New York-based ﬁrm in a strong position in a market that can only get bigger. High 5 has successfully leveraged its slot machine content for its social casino audience but after only launching its ﬂagship app High 5 Casino on iOS-only last November, it is still too far behind many of its competitors on mobile to break into the top ﬁve just yet.
6. BIG FISH GAMES
Big Fish Games rises one position in this year’s SCi Power 25, after debuting on the list for the ﬁrst time last year, due to its continued impressive performance on mobile. The ﬁrm’s social casino division is one of the biggest publishers on mobile, second-only to Playtika, while Big Fish Casino accounts for approximately 90% of the company’s total
mobile revenues. Unsurprisingly, iOS remains the company’s primary distribution channel, with Android accounting for less than 20% of mobile revenues, while Facebook is also a small part of the business. Its strength on the key growth channel alongside strong revenues would arguably demand a higher position, but its lack of Facebook revenues act as a slight mark against it, with the social network still such an important part of any business. However, the Seattle-based ﬁrm recently hired Erica May, formerly of Facebook and most recently social games ﬁrm Mind Candy, as product manager in what is believed to be part of Big Fish Games’ plans to build out its presence on the social network.
5. SCIENTIFIC GAMES/WILLIAMS INTERACTIVE
Scientiﬁc Games-owned Williams Interactive drops down one place this year, which is more of a reﬂection on the performance of its competitors rather than its own after another strong 12 months. Williams Interactive has contributed signiﬁcantly to the ﬁnancial performance of its parent company, which recently posted record revenues for its interactive division, although it has not disclosed EBITDA margins for social casino yet.
While revenues from Facebook have remained relatively ﬂat compared to last year, mobile has been the big success story for Williams Interactive with revenues more than doubling from $6.4m in Q2 2013 to $15m in the comparative period this year, and it recently launched Gold Fish Casino Slots on iOS.
4. GSN GAMES/BASH GAMING
In February GSN Games bought Bash Gaming for an undisclosed fee, rumoured to have been approximately $160m, ending months of speculation, with GSN at one point ﬁling a lawsuit against the Bingo Bash-developer for pulling out of a deal. Both GSN Games and Bash were already huge players in the social casino sector in their own right, taking positions ﬁve and six respectively in last year’s Power 25, but the acquisition of the latter by the former has strengthened both ﬁrms signiﬁcantly.
As the gaming arm of Sony-owned Game Show Network, GSN Games beneﬁts from strong ﬁnancial backing as well as brands known all over the world including Deal or No Deal, Ghostbusters and Wheel of Fortune, which it continues to leverage successfully. And with brands now becoming of even greater importance, there are few in the business that can really match the power of GSN Games.
On Facebook the two operators each have a top-10 performing app with Games by GSN boasting 2.9 million MAU and Bingo Bash 3.2 million MAU, according to Dystillr estimates. And combined quarterly revenues make the two ﬁrms among the biggest publishers on the platform.
However, it is the mobile and tablet business which really impresses, with revenues behind only that of Caesars Interactive and Big Fish Games. Bash Gaming’s Bingo Bash app, the most popular social bingo on the market, in particular has been lavished with praise and can boast being the seventh highest grossing app on iPad. Zynga should be looking over its shoulder next year.
Once the darling of the social casino industry, Zynga’s topsy-turvy fortunes saw it pipped to the number one spot by Caesars Interactive last year, and it has now also been overtaken by International Games Technology (IGT). It remains the largest ﬁrm in terms of MAU thanks to Zynga Poker, and its launch of Hit It Rich Slots has given it two top 10 Facebook apps this year. But the continued decline of Zynga Poker and less impressive monetisation than its peers remains a cause for concern.
Since his appointment in July 2013, CEO Don Mattrick has sought to ﬁrmly stamp his own footprint on the company with founder Mark Pincus stepping down from his role as chief product ofﬁcer. To shake things up, Mattrick has brought in a wave of new faces, including former Microsoft employees, to the point where the company appears to have a completely different look and feel compared to this time last year.
The San Francisco-based ﬁrm had in the past been criticised for its failure to adapt to the change in consumer preference towards mobile, but the company has taken signiﬁcant steps to rectify this problem with the $500m acquisition of NaturalMotion. Within the social casino sector we’ve seen the launch of a mobile-optimised version of Zynga Poker and the widely praised Hit It Rich Slots. The move appears to have paid off with mobile revenues from its social casino business up approximately $6m to $26m, making it the ﬁfth biggest publisher on the platform.
Zynga has also achieved some stabilisation of its core Poker franchise, which still has a huge 22 million MAU on Facebook, but with total social casino revenues down over $10m year-on-year and its market share constantly ﬂuctuating, Zynga’s future as a top ﬁve social casino ﬁrm next year is far from certain.
2. INTERNATIONAL GAME TECHNOLOGY/DOUBLEDOWN
Last year International Game Technology (IGT) could have considered itself unlucky not to ﬁnish ahead of Zynga in second-place, but there was no doubting its ranking this time after another successful 12 months.
Like Zynga, IGT’s social casino division has undergone many personnel changes the past year including the departure of company president Glenn Walcott and founders Greg Enell and Cooper DuBois. But these senior staff exits failed to have a negative impact on the Las Vegas-based company which has seen revenues grow from $61m in Q2 2013 to $72m in the comparative period this year.
Revenues from Facebook have been surprisingly static, despite DoubleDown Casino remaining the second biggest social casino app on Facebook behind Zynga Poker with 5.8 million MAU. During the period it has optimised many of IGT’s most popular slots games found on the casino ﬂoors, including Kitty Glitter and Cleopatra, and this continues to prove a key advantage. But it is mobile which has proved to be a key reason for the success of
Revenues from the channel have risen dramatically, almost doubling to $30m compared to last year after much-needed improvement to the DoubleDown Casino interface and game selection. Approximately 80% of mobile revenues were generated from iOS, nearly two-thirds of which came from iPads, while bookings per daily user have seen double-digit growth.
IGT was one of the ﬁrst big land-based suppliers to see the potential in the social casino market after acquiring DoubleDown Interactive for $500m; considered an eye-watering ﬁgure at the time, but few would argue it made the wrong decision given its social casino business is one of the few bright sparks in the ﬁrm’s revenues. Perhaps another acquisition in the sector could be in the pipeline and see it competing for the top slot with CIE next year?
1. CAESARS INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT
While we would like to throw in a major surprise for the number one position, there is simply no company which even comes close to matching Caesars Interactive Entertainment’s (CIE) massive social casino presence in 2014. It’s a familiar story of organic and bolt-on growth, but it’s no less impressive for it.
In February CIE bought House of Fun developer Paciﬁc Interactive for an undisclosed fee, as the gaming giant attempts to replicate the success of previous acquisitions including Playtika and Buffalo Studios. After making that high-proﬁle acquisition CIE CEO Mitch Garber said the company intends to continue being “aggressively acquisitive in the social and mobile space”.
But it is the staggeringly high revenue numbers which really make CIE stand out from its closest competitors. In Q2 2014, the ﬁrm recorded revenues of $140m from its social casino business, almost double those of IGT and CIE’s own Q2 results in the comparative period last year, with a relatively even split between Facebook and mobile. Caesars reported adjusted EBITDA margin for its interactive business of 31% in CY13, but as this also includes its real-money business, social casino proﬁts are likely to be even higher.
On mobile, which was given a far bigger weighting in the judging criteria for this year’s Power 25, CIE is a force to be reckoned with, boasting quarterly revenues of $74m, outstripping IGT’s total revenues of $72m across all channels. Earlier this year data analytics ﬁrm Distimo named Playtika the biggest social casino publisher on the platform, accounting for 21% of the total revenues among the top 10 social casino publishers on iOS and 22% of revenues on Android.
CIE also has one of the most diverse portfolios of products with well-known bingo, poker and slots titles all performing well. As by far and away the biggest publisher on Facebook and mobile, it will take some stopping CIE from taking the top spot in next year’s SCi Power 25 as well.
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