Chilean video game gains 275,000 active users on Facebook

The application, which has an ecological approach, was developed by the creators of Wanako Games, who also create products for iPhone.

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A crashlanding astronaut trying to develop and sustain a polluted, and apparently lifeless, planet is the premise of Terranova, the third video game from Chilean studio Atakama Labs, which now boasts more than 275,000 active users on Facebook only three months after its launch.

The third game from the tech company run Argentineans Esteban Sosnik and Tiburcio de la Cárcova, creators of Wanako Games, is registering 364,000 monthly visitors – almost 32,000 each day – and has been compared to Farmville, the industry benchmark with 83 million users at its peak.

“These are mature-market figures for a 100% ‘free to play’ game,” said Sosnik. He explained that the game’s business model involves offering players with a portfolio of ‘add-on’ options, such as new avatars or special tools to allow players to advance more quickly. According to their estimates, one to three percent of users are spending in the range of US$5 to US$10 on the add-ons, with some users totalling spend of around $US200.

As the game is solely available in English, Terranova has done well in countries like the US, the UK and Canada, but also has followers in Chile and Argentina, which represent its 6th and 7th largest markets respectively around the world.

The company has offices in US city of San Francisco, the mecca of new technology, but its headquarters, home to 20 employees, is located in the Chilean capital of Santiago.

Sosnik said: “Chile is the most interesting country in America for our business of video game development, thanks to its stable economy, the legal system and labor market, the hard working culture, and good access to both financial capital and a well-qualified workforce. These can be hard to find in the US because there is such high demand.”

The Atakama Labs duo have described this venture as the most risky since Wanako Games, with its primary market on social networking sites, an environment perfected by informal games such as Farmville, Mafia Wars and Zynga Poker,admits Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.  Informal games on social networking sites earned US$ 343 million in 2010.

“Our studio takes the opposite approach: we offer products on the platforms people are already using, like Facebook and iPhone, which already carries our Freaking Inkies and Today I Die Again,” added the CEO of the company.  As the products have been well received by users, the firm is hoping to present another four products on social networks during 2011.