LeWeb10 Playfish and gaming

Sebastien de Halleux, Co-Founder, Playfish & VP, Business Development & Strategic Partnerships,EA Interactive. Q&A with Veronica Belmont, Host, Tekzilla

WARNING: Liveblogged, some paraphasing, some things probably missed. Video below

Sebastien de Halleux
Photo by Adam Tinworth

VB: a lot of games out there are derivitive..how will that change
SH: there’s very few of the web people out there playing games, we try on FB to do new new types of games and there’s room for more. the first quarter next year, you’ll get a lot of new entrants with new games designs. We have already announced Monopoly. we know there are a lot more, Disney will hopefully announce a few things

VB: how many FB users engage in social games?
SH: roughly half, or so FB say. and that’s only on FB,there are plenty of others

VB: since EA bought Playfish, how do they do better with existing IP vs original IP
SH: brands are not ness to build a successful social games…to get new players, you need to touch them at a passion point. Sport is the ultimate social activity. by developing products with brands to enable a passion point you get a lot of traction, eg why we did Fifa. It is not about about power of brand to get you to buy, but to touch the passion point from outside the network.

VB: is FIFA the largest?
SH: no Pet society, about 20m active users. Fifa is the top sports property on FB.

VB: you had a quote a while back about the top 10 games being existing brands has that changed?
SH: there are some differences…you are seeing new categories growing. arcade games, sports category did not exist a year ago. Also some branded games, like Family Feud. where are your 1st person shooters, racing etc, they ahve been strong on every platform, but not present on FB

VB: is that limited by technology?
SH: yes, partly., also usage pattern – a few minutes at a time. It’s not limiting to create a great experience,

VB: curious about micropayments? what are they willing to pay?
SH: we sell about 90million items a day. about 10x the number on ebay on any day. this is just for Playfish. Why? What? It’s to do with social emotions. In WOW you buy ‘functional’ goods, on Playfish, it’s more emotional. On Fifa, you can buy a pack of players for 8eu, not really micro, but it has a meaning. so we look for things that make sense for players.

VB: how do you decide value?
SH: we are in early days, planned economy. We may eventually get demand driven economy, but now central. Some are aobut your specific spending pattern etc. very basic, but room for improvement.

VB: in console games, they pay upfront. But you have flipped..game for free then get more for experience
SH: our games catered for non-gamers. they don’t play games. we need to lower barriers to entry. no costs, one click to play. we try and respect the players, let them tell us how much they play a game. Some players have spent nothing, others 1000s. they define what value the game has for them

VB: how much?
SH: 1-5% spend, 10% in casual gaming which is more established. they often spend similar to retail. Our users have shown us they want more ways to pay, eg gift cards, upscaling the cost -they have asked for $100 gift cards to reduce transactions. Once you have convinced one that it is a quality experience, they are likely to play. the experience at retail (eg getting a console game) can be disappointing

VB: last year., you did a promotion for valentines, with flowers. Will there be more than that?
SH: yes. Most companies want to be in social, more than just a Facebook page. we have done something with DrPepper. you can get codes on bottles that give you in game enhancement. there are lots of opportunities for brands. you want to map the real world onto the social experience. We design games for our players, and only introduce brands when it makes sense. I spend a lot of time talking to brands but saying no. I think most value will come from player payments, telling us it is a good value,

VB: how tied to FB are you, do you see a shift to mobile?
SH: EA is the number 1 mobile content provider, it is extremely important…but we are thankful to FB engineering team, it has been a tremendous journey in making it a gaming platform. FB has admitted that games are a big use case…we are not a tech company, we are gaming. we try and select best network, so new one in Japan not on FB. it will be where the user is

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