Voodoo Gets Some Help from Goldman; Apple Back in the Ad Business

TheGamingEconomy rounds of some of the biggest stories in the business of gaming. In this week's edition: Voodoo Gets Some Help from Goldman; Apple Back in the Ad Business; and Zynga Grabs Gram Games for USD$250m. 

Voodoo Gets Some Help from Goldman

There is a huge amount of money still going into gaming. Goldman Sachs is investing USD$200 (£150m) into French gaming firm Voodoo, which has had a string of hits over the past twelve months, and is looking to use the money to build out a developer hub. The aim is to give other developers insight into how best to use data to scale an audience.

The company believes it is in a strong position to offer this solution to other developers, having scaled its own user base to 150 million active players per month. Gabriel Rivaud, vice president of games at Voodoo, noted that the company has embraced data insights to grow and improve its growing stable of games.

“After four years of turmoil, we had to change our ways”, Rivaud said. “From data we gathered, we were able to improve our game and deliver millions of downloads.”

There is no mention of how this developer hub service will monetise itself. But it could be a mix of equity and ad rev share.

Apple Back in the Ad Business

There has been much written about Apple’s growing service business – and whether or not it will allow the company to keep growing. The service business accounts for 15% of Apple’s total revenue and has the biggest growth rate year-on-year.

With a possible slowdown in handset sales, Apple is looking at other areas of its business it could juice. One obvious area that could help continue growth is advertising.

WSJ claims that Apple is looking to have another tilt at building an advertising business – and this time it could have a chance at succeeding. It has practically made it impossible for any third party ad-tech vendor to operate in its ecosystem.

But Apple is a public company – and as such, the appetite for such lofty morality will likely be short-lived.

WSJ says the company has already rehired the architect of its original iAd solution, Winston Crawford.

So, what would an Apple ad net look like? It has access to device ids, which it has made it difficult to get access to for third-party vendors. Apple also has access to other data points that could help its ad business, like app-store analytics. It could also tap into demand from its two million developers who use iOS to distribute mobile apps, looking to build their user base. All the pieces are there for it to build a sizeable ad business. But, as ever, it’s about execution and commitment to the project.

Cook will have kept an eye on the Amazon ad business and how it has scaled a high-margin ad business. A multibillion dollar business is not something he is likely to walk away from.

It is still too early to know if this will be another disaster for Apple. There is a good chance that it might decide to acquire tech and talent to accelerate the process. Apple acquiring ad tech? Not impossible.

Zynga Grabs Gram Games for USD$250m

Zynga acquired Gram Games for USD$250m (£188m) last week. Zynga, which was once the gaming poster child, seems to have steadied the ship over the past few years. The company is now valued at USD$3bn (£2.25bn), thanks mostly to mobile games like Words With Friends and Zynga Poker.

Gram Games is a casual games developer with over three million daily active users – and is reported to have a good pipeline of games coming through.

Zynga seems to see value in the Istanbul gaming hub, having done a deal there to acquire Peak games for USD$100m (£75m) at the end of last year.