|Industry||Mobile phones, Social Gaming|
|Founded||April 1, 2003|
|Headquarters||San Mateo, California, United States|
|Ron Czerny (CEO)|
Playphone is a mobile social gaming network founded in 2003. Playphone’s custom gaming solution powers app stores for leading worldwide carriers (Verizon, Claro Brazil). Preloaded on Android smartphones, Playphone’s gaming network offers mobile gamers a new on-device destination to discover and play their favorite games with friends. Playphone is based in Silicon Valley, California with offices in San Jose, California; Brooklin, Sao Paulo; Beijing, China; and United Kingdom.
Founded in April 2003 by Ron Czerny, Playphone is funded by Menlo Ventures, Cardinal Venture Capital and Coral Capital Management. Playphone is a pioneer in the concept of direct-to-consumer mobile content distribution. Playphone’s technology powered the first off-deck downloads of mobile games in North America. Selling through 4,000 retail stores, including Best Buy, EB Games, Fred Meyers, Rite Aid and Target, consumers could purchase pre-paid phone cards offering two mobile games, two polyphonic ringtones and two wallpaper options for $9.99. Early partners included Digital Bridges, offering access to game titles including Lara Croft Tomb Raider and Disney's The Lion King.
Expanding its offer portfolio, Playphone went on to build a subscription-based service to provide games, ringtones, and wallpaper for mobile phones, with a library of more than 150 games and thousands of ring tones.
In 2007, Playphone was acknowledged as one of the top 10 most visited mobile phone entertainment sites. In May 2007, Playphone secured its Series C funding of $18.75 million from Scale Venture Capital, which was used to facilitate Playphone’s expansion into Latin America.
In May 2008, Playphone acquired Pitch Entertainment Group, a London-based mobile content distributor founded by David Warburton. The acquisition of Pitch enabled Playphone to continue their global expansion and granted them access to an additional users in 20 countries across Africa, Asia and Europe. In June 2008, Playphone partnered with UK based Top Up TV to showcase its mobile content in a new Playphone branded TV channel. Also in June 2008, Playphone partnered with Cellufun to provide Playphone’s mobile content to their 5.5+ million users and signed new distribution agreements with Virgin Mobile USA and Cincinnati Bell.
Playphone continued its growth in 2009 and in October, Playphone partnered with Vantrix to deploy its Vantrix Storefront Optimizer to support Playphone’s continued expansion into the Asian mobile market.
In October 2010, Playphone announced its new mobile social gaming platform for smartphones and tablets called Playphone Social. Playphone Social was a strategic shift for Playphone’s mobile entertainment content offerings and helped Playphone make the leap from feature phones to smartphones. Playphone’s new platform would focus on its revolutionary mobile social gaming technology and feature multiplayer cross-platform mobile social gaming.
In December 2010, Playphone launched Playphone Poker for iOS, its first smartphone game in support of its mobile gaming network. Playphone Poker is a freemium casino-style Texas Hold’em game that achieved a top 5 casino apps ranking and over 2 million downloads in the App Store for the first 4 months after its launch.
In February 2011, Playphone launched the beta for the Playphone Social Gaming Network. In June 2011, Playphone released the Android OS version of its popular Playphone Poker game. In August 2011, Playphone announced a global strategic agreement with Chinese-based mobile games company Perfect World, to enable a number of games to be distributed on the Playphone Social Network. In December 2011, the Playphone Social Gaming Network launched commercially. Playphone’s new gaming network featured a social, cross-platform mobile gaming experience enabling iOS, Android and WP7 mobile gamers to play together.
Playphone acquired mobile social marketing firm SocialHour in March 2012. SocialHour was acquired to augment Playphone’s mobile marketing and distribution expertise in support of the development and growth of the Playphone Social Gaming Network.
Playphone's Social Gaming Network
Launched in December 2011, the Playphone Social Gaming Network (PSGN) is an advanced cross-platform, multiplayer network that connects smartphone and tablet gamers to a worldwide social gaming experience. Playphone’s cross-platform technology works on the world’s leading platforms including iOS, Android, HTML5, WP, Windows Phone 7 and supports Adobe AIR. Due to this, Playphone is able to connect gamers with the most popular games that give them the ability to play with their friends at any time regardless of their operating system.
One major feature is the InstaMultiplay function that can be easily integrated by developers. InstaMultiplay features include:
- Play Now: automatically connects players with live opponents or computer-managed robots
- Play with Friends: allows players to instantly challenge online friends and invite friends to play via Facebook or email
- Go to Lobby: lobby environment where players can challenge or be challenged to a game regardless if players are connected or not
By June 2012, Playphone’s Social Gaming Network had 4.1 million monthly active users, 12 million game sessions, 3.5 million play hours and over 3,000 developers. One of the most successful titles to date, Assaulter Special Operations, broke into the top 20 on the Google Play store on Android devices.
Playphone’s first carrier app store – Games Portal on Verizon - launched in 2013. Preloaded on multiple Android devices,. Users can see what games their friends are playing, download and play their friends’ favorite games with them, and invite other friends to play, all from the same app.
PSGN was designed as a developer-friendly platform, giving developers full control over the publishing and distribution of their game, IP, customer experience and virtual economies. The free SDK provides a suite of social and engagement tools to optimize monetization, engagement, distribution and user experience while providing direct access to one-click carrier billing, soon-to-launch carrier app stores and hundreds of millions of carrier subscribers.
In 2013, Playphone gave a demonstration at GDC with the launch of Games Portal on Verizon by generating 22 articles in 22 different publications. Playphone’s new portal gives game developers instant access to Verizon’s massive US distribution network. Preloaded on Android Phones, Playphone’s new Games Portal on Verizon helps game developers distribute, monetize and add social features to their games.
PSGN’s newest feature, Performance Optimization Platform ("POP!" for short) which lets developers quickly add dynamic touch points in-game to continuously test and optimize engagement and monetization without having to re-publish their game. By inserting one line of code at critical points in-game (level end, virtual good upsell, friend join, etc.), developers can include marketing offers, messages, cross-sells, traffic drivers and identify flow issues in a non-intrusive way. POP is designed to automatically run multivariate tests based on the success of the various actions/responses created throughout the game.
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