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Facebook door closing for indie devs - nDreams

But CEO Patrick O'Luanaigh underlines opportunities for working with partners

Facebook as a development platform for small, independent studios is becoming an increasing challenge as bigger players dominate the space - particularly when it comes to marketing and PR spend.

That's according to nDreams CEO Patrick O'Luanaigh, who told that one of the key problems is persuading people to spend money - because while the numbers can be big, the percentage that actually shell out on games on the platform is very small.

"Based on my experience, my view is that it's very, very hard," he said. "Commercially there are a lot of big challenges now - advertising on Facebook is getting more expensive, the cost-per-click that you have to pay is getting higher.

"Unless you have a load of games, and the scale and size to do a lot of stuff, then it's difficult to get people to part with money - it's 3-5 per cent of people on average paying for stuff on Facebook.

"In order to make money you need to have millions of players - not just hundreds of thousands - and that's hard without marketing and PR."

He went on to reveal rumours he'd heard about a $75 million annual marketing budget at Zynga - a rumour which he admits he could believe was true.

"That gets you a lot of attention, a lot of players - and they've worked incredibly hard as one of the first people in," he said. "They've built on it, and got a lot of funding to develop that.

"But for a small, independent player now it's very hard - and pretty much impossible to do on your own," he added.

O'Luanaigh explained how nDreams, which has published several Facebook titles, saw greater success when working with partner brands - particularly those with existing fan bases on the social network, which could then be leveraged in promotion of the game.

And he also revealed the budget split for anybody thinking of launching into the space.

"Marketing and PR particularly, and financing, can be challenging - we're getting through that," he said. "And we've made great learnings as well.

"For example, you've got to spend half your development budget after launch, which is something that's very different for developers - after marketing you end up spending just a quarter of what you've put aside actually on the game pre-launch, which is very unnatural.

"So we've learned a lot, we're continuing to push the stuff we've got on Facebook - we think it's a very interesting area, but to be honest we're slightly down on Facebook, because it's proven a lot harder than we thought. Partly that's the fact that we came to it slightly late - a year or so after Zynga and Playfish had success."

The full interview with Patrick O'Luanaigh, in which he also talks about the company's work on PlayStation Home, his views on the development of digital platforms and how the company intends to focus more in the future, is available now.

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