King.com's Facebook Gamble: We Interview CEO Riccardo Zacconi

Casual gaming connoisseur King.com recently revealed plans to bring its online games and tournament system to Facebook. It's a big move for King.com, hypothetically extending the company's reach to Facebook's roughly 600 million monthly active users.

King.com already claims some 25 million unique users, and upwards of 400 million games played through its online gaming portal each month. Not too shabby for a company that's eight years old, with around 110 employees.

We asked King.com CEO Riccardo Zacconi about the move, and how it affects the way King.com's games are played.

Game On: What changes in the move to Facebook? Do the games play differently?

Riccardo Zacconi: King.com has a continuously growing library of over 200 games in 10 languages. A main driver for our success with these games is our own studio, which develops consistent, record-breaking original games that top the best branded games on the market. On King.com, eight of the top 10 games have been built in-house, accounting for 85 percent of the top 10 total gameplays. We are extending the availability of our tournaments system and these popular games to people across the globe via Facebook.

The primary difference will be that users can leverage Facebook Currency to purchase King Coins to play socially in tournaments, which creates a lower barrier to entry. Additionally, with Facebook's expansive reach, it creates more opportunities for tournaments at any skill level, giving users more opportunities to play.

GO: How does the social networking angle work?

RZ: Games played on Facebook and mobile devices are the most popular applications on each platform. However, each varies dramatically, e.g. Zynga (social) vs Angry Birds (casual). King brings these together on the same, social platform. Ultimately, social games companies can't compete with the likes of Zynga at their own game on Facebook. King's taking its own, successful model to Facebook instead, offering something different along with a tournament system that creates an experience unlike any other.

The primary element that sets King apart is our proprietary tournament system that provides a fun and challenging experience as it only matches players of the exact same skill level, creating a social interaction that is naturally fitting for social games.

GO: Are matchups still random or can you set skill levels?

RZ: King.com's proprietary tournament system only matches players of the exact same skill level. Skill level is assigned based on gameplay performance in tournament mode. Based on this rank, you get matched with those at your same rank level. We feel this really incites the thrill of competition, of winning, while letting people compete against each other.

GO: Does the Facebook interface require any ongoing fees?

RZ: No, users can play for free as much as they want or can play in tournaments by buying King Coins with Facebook Currency. Users can then use these King Coins to play in tournaments, buy virtual gifts or purchase additions for their avatars.

GO: How do you respond to concerns that you're an unlicensed outfit? That you're run without external oversight?

RZ: Not exactly clear on your question, but all games are played for virtual coins. There is no cash or Facebook payout. Users play for virtual King Coins.

GO: Thanks Richard!

Update: We asked King.com to clarify its answer to the last question, and received the following response from a King.com representative:

"You cannot play for cash on Facebook and King Coins are 'native' across the operation, to use your words. You can use Facebook Currency to buy King Coins, which can then be used for tournament play, purchasing virtual goods, etc. "Payouts" only happen in King Coins."

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